Yale Law Students Win Acclaim As Filmmakers
"The Worst of the Worst" explores the impact of solitary confinement at Northern and examines the future of "supermax" (short for super-maximum security) prisons in Connecticut and nationwide.
Inmates spend 23 hours per day in their cells at Northern, frequently in solitary confinement, with one hour of recreation in an enclosed outdoor pen. The documentary follows the story of three individuals whose lives have been shaped by the prison: Misael, a former inmate; Pete, a corrections officer; and Ros, a mother determined to support her incarcerated son.
The film also includes the perspectives of administrators, and includes analysis from legal scholars and other experts as it calls into question the role of super-max prisons and solitary confinement in the criminal justice system.
"Connecticut is one state, but 45 states in this country have supermax facilities," Aseem Mehta, a Visual Law Project member, recently told WNPR public radio in Connecticut. "That means more than 80,000 people are being held in solitary each day. It's a huge issue, and one that not many people know about. We hope to get people talking."
While Kaur, the project's main founder, has moved to California, current members do not necessarily have Hollywood aspirations in their immediate future. "I don't have any prior production experience in the film world," said Couvillion. "It's a hard industry to break into. I don't see myself pursuing this after law school."
Nevertheless, Couvillion, a Louisiana native who hopes to complete a joint degree program in law and environmental studies in 2015, said she fully expects to bring her filmmaking skills into the courtroom, when appropriate.
Jennifer So, a third-year law student from San Francisco, hopes to make films after graduation, but probably won't quit her day job as a lawyer to do so. "For me, I'm really interested in advocacy," she said. "Whether that's through the courts or making films, I know it's going to be a part of what I do."•
For more information on the Yale Visual Law Project and its films, visit the group's website at http://yalevisuallawproject.org.