Following up on Monday’s post The 20 Best American Prison Documentaries, I wanted to highlight the Visual Law Project out of Yale University.

The project runs “a year-long practicum at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School that trains law students in the art of visual advocacy — making effective arguments through film.”

I’d think being a law graduate and then a real world lawyer would be enough; one expects visual journalists or documentarians to have this sort of territory covered. Perhaps not? Never too many advocates or concerned observers, right?

There’s more answers on the FAQ page:

Q: Why should law students learn visual advocacy?
 Visual and digital technologies have transformed the practice of law.  Lawyers are using videos to present evidence, closing arguments, and victim-impact statements; advocates are making viral videos to advance public education campaigns; and scholars are debating ideas in a multimedia blogosphere.  Everyone’s doing it.  But no one is really teaching it — or reflecting upon it.  We see training in visual advocacy — effectively evaluating and making arguments through videos and images — as a vital part of our legal education.

Of the films the VLP has produced The Worst Of The Worst is of particular interest to me. One can be lax and think that solitary confinement is a brutal practice prevalent only in California, New York, Illinois and other large states, but every state has at least one SuperMax including the seemingly genteel Connecticut.

The Worst of the Worst takes us inside Northern Correctional Institution, CT’s sole supermax prison, and includes interviews with a range of experts and administrators are interwoven with the stories of inmates and correctional officers who spend their days within the walls of Northern.

From the trailer, the treatment of the correctional officers and prisoners seems sympathetic. This gives me hope; it suggests the problem is the fabric of the facility which prohibits rehabilitation, rather than a presumption of fault or inadequacy. Prisons are toxic and often inflexible enough to capitalise on the potential of people who are caged and work within.

Check out the fledgling (est. 2011) student run Visual Law Project.

More here.

Thanks to Larissa Leclair for the tip!