In 2012, California amended its “Three Strikes” law—one of the harshest criminal sentencing policies in the country. The Return examines this unprecedented reform through the eyes of those on the front lines—prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions, and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law.
"An epic documentary...A critical in-depth look at how the transition from prison to home is stacked with obstacles, often making reentry impossible. It begs the question we all need to address: When is the punishment enough?"
Ann Schwartzman, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Prison Society
"A standing ovation for The Return for putting a human face on the ordeal faced by hundreds of thousands of formerly incarcerated men and women...As the film shows, the journey from prison back to freedom is anything but easy. The decency of the men and their families shown here and their compelling stories tells us in a powerful way why as a society we must end mass incarceration and why we must assist those harmed by it."
Michael B. Mushlin, Professor of Law, Pace University, Author, Rights of Prisoners
"The Return is a true exploration of men returning home after spending decades behind bars under draconian charges. The film is a powerful window into the American criminal justice system and the impact of severe sentences not only on convicted people themselves, but also their families and their communities. It also reminds us why second chances are important."
Elizabeth Hinton, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, Harvard University, Author, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America
"Naturally compelling...Potent stuff, as it vividly captures the psychological as well as logistical difficulties of re-adjusting to civilian life...The Return underlines that at least as much care should be put into the process of de-institutionalizing offenders as goes into institutionalizing them in the first place."
Dennis Harvey, Variety
"A quiet look at a subject few people in a country with a bulging prison population want to think about: how best to reintroduce former inmates into society...The Return...helps open up a world that most of society doesn't want to think about but should."
Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times
"This documentary reminds us that the path to redemption is both intimate and shared, and that the struggle for forgiveness always begins with healing the self. Best used for classroom discussion purposes about prison re-entry."
Bruce Arrigo, Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society, Professor of Public Policy, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Co-author of Revolution in Penology: Rethinking the Society of Captives
"The Return gets to the heart of the current issue of mass incarceration in our nation. This is a well-articulated examination of culture, race, substance abuse, trauma, and mental health and how these intersect with the experience and impact of incarceration. The Return gives a human face to reentry issues and highlights the need for attention to equality in justice."
Dr. Danielle Rousseau, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Director of Prison Education Program, Boston University
"An important and skillful account of the difficulties faced by individuals upon release from prison after many years and a testament to their strength and that of their families. Students and community members across the nation would benefit from the screening of this film."
Madeline deLone, Executive Director, The Innocence Project