EEC: Documentary Studies

“The Prison in Twelve Landscapes”: Previewing our June documentary film selection

The Econ Extra Credit Team Jun 3, 2021
Heard on:

American prisons and jails make up a multibillion-dollar industry that exists largely out of sight of everyday life. This month’s documentary selection, “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes,” immerses the viewer in slices of American life and the American economy that are intricately intertwined with that industry: a care-package business in the Bronx that prepares shipments from friends and family to their incarcerated loved ones; a prison-based crew of firefighters that rescues California homes and property from wildfires; a county’s residents pushing back against a complex system of fines for minor offenses.

The American prison population — more than 2 million people — is far larger than any other country’s. Yet they’re often overlooked. Producer and director Brett Story said her goal with this film was to explore whether “seeing prisons differently might be key to thinking about prisons differently.” We hope you’ll watch “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes” with us, and we want to know if it prompts you to think differently about prisons and the economies they’ve given rise to. Send us your thoughts and feedback at

“The Prison in Twelve Landscapes” is available to stream for free on Kanopy and Topic (if you sign up for a trial membership). It’s also available to rent for a small fee through various other streaming services. PLEASE NOTE: The documentary contains disturbing language.

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