Rapper turned actor Ice T is continuing to make moves from actor to producer/ executive producer for film projects. Last year his film Art of Rap received rave reviews and helped lay ground work for Ice T to take on other projects.
This time around he’s embarking on doing a reality show with a social justice tip called ‘Life After Prison‘. Ice T explains that a good friend of his, a former gang member and ex-felon named John Boy Watts approached him about doing a TV show that focuses on helping those who come out of prison get back on their feet and stay out of jail.
John Boy who is the star of the show is shown presiding over 6 ex-felons who live in a house where their efforts to stick to the straight and narrow are chronicled. John Boy is shown dispensing wisdom and guidance. Ice T agreed to be one of the executive producers noting thatprison impacts everyone directly and indirectly and that we should not ignore the plight of those locked up. He said everyone deserves a second chance..
From the trailer it looks like a Big Brother Reality type show which is likely to raise eyebrows. After all, the jury is still out as to just how effective these types of shows can be in addressing complex issues. The fear is they tend to oversimplify complex and systemic issues and boil it down to individual exploits.
Currently there is a lot of talk about the prison industry, its short comings and outright mistreatment of inmates. This has been heightened by scholars like Michele Alexander and book the New Jim Crow and most recently Attorney General Eric Holder who is pushing to lessen mandatory minimum sentences.
There are also array of campaigns ranging from changing the sentencing guidelines and profit motive around mass incarceration and private prisons to the California prison hunger strike which has just entered its 7th week. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these pressing issues are addressed within the scope of this new TV show. If not, hopefully they address the fact that there severe shortage of resources to help returning inmates to get back on their feet and stay out of jail.
In any case Prison Reform is a major issue and hopefully this Reality TV show doesn’t obscure the reality of folks on the ground fighting to change things. With the United States leading the world in the number of people incarcerated, our human rights record for the treatment of prisoners under fire and more than half our prisoners on lock down for non violent offenses, we can’t afford to have issues around prison over simplified to the point we lose focus even as this show successfully shows folks a path to success.
The early buzz on Life After Prison is that its good and surely needed.
Below is a trailer to the upcoming show..