The Corridor is a feature-length documentary that portrays the nation’s first high school operating inside an adult jail. The film takes viewers inside Five Keys Charter School in San Francisco to observe students, teachers, and correctional officers as they navigate a new model of criminal justice based on the power of education.
At least 70 percent of people in jail have little to no high school education, and at least 70 percent of the people released end up back in jail. This documentary shows the inner-workings and challenges of San Francisco's Five Keys Charter School -' the first high school of its kind in the United States that provides inmates the opportunity to earn a high school diploma to prepare them for successful reintegration into their communities. Most of the inmates, whose crimes range from triple murder to peddling marijuana, were born into circumstances where bad choices were their biggest option. Bethany, a mother of six, was a ninth-grade dropout and confesses that she doesn't know how to get or keep a job or maintain a household. William's dad left him when he was 11 years old and by the age of 13 sought "success" by dealing drugs and getting all the girls. On average, most inmates read at just a fifth-grade level, and most have had a negative educational experience. Designed upon the premise that the key to reintegration is education, Five Keys Charter School strives to create alternatives to the revolving door of incarceration. Enrollment is mandatory for all inmates who never received a high school diploma. In addition to classes that range from algebra to civics, the school also offers lessons in art and meditation. For many of the inmates, the experience validates their humanity: they are respected for the value of their minds, and their opinions matter. As the inmates begin to think about what they might want to do differently in life, THE CORRIDOR invites viewers to ask: is education the first step along the pathway to restorative justice?
Directed by Annelise Wunderlich & Richard O'Connell
The Corridor Airs on KQED's Truly CA Series on June 22nd at 8pm