An interview with Fleet from Equal Opportunity Today.
This month, audiences can screen Path of Freedom, curated by the Global Oneness Project, on the Planet Classroom Network. Directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Path of Freedom follows former inmate Fleet Maull into the harsh environment of a Rhode Island prison as he shares his strategies for surviving on the inside. The film offers a rare glimpse into the inner lives of men reaching for forgiveness, inner peace, and freedom behind bars. What’s changed in prison reform since 2012?
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Fleet Maull.
In 2012, Path of Freedom introduced us to the harsh environment of a Rhode Island men’s prison. In the film, we follow you, a former inmate, as you visit the prison. What do you believe has changed since the movie was made and why?
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, I do not believe there were significant changes to the policies, environment, or the daily life of the incarcerated persons and the staff in the Rhode Island facilities. In 2012, when the film was made, incarceration rates had been declining for several years and continued to do so before leveling off at the current rate of 289 per 100,000, a rate less than half the national average. Racial disparities in incarceration nonetheless remain egregious in Rhode Island as elsewhere in the U.S. As with correctional facilities everywhere, the Covid-19 pandemic brought very significant pressures and potential changes. Both prisoners and staff have been extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 infection since the pandemic began, and vaccination rates have lagged for correctional staff, remaining at approximately 69% in 2021. The Rhode Island Department of Corrections did eliminate medical co-pays for incarcerated people due to the pandemic, a change that should be made permanent in order to end this unjust practice.
What for you, are the main takeaways from Path of Freedom for teachers and students who will be screening and studying this film?
Here’s how I would describe the main takeaways from the film. First, incarcerated people are just like the rest of us, normal human beings struggling
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