Filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary 13th named after Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explores race and the criminal justice system. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery with the exception unless it was a punishment for a crime. This documentary explores how slavery is continuing under the guise of mass incarceration.
Mass incarceration is a social justice issue and racial issue. 13th documentary, which is currently available on Netflix, is a film that is accessible and engaging to teens, and a must for everyone to see. Ava DuVernay has tweeted that public screenings “are allowed by Netflix in a first-of-its-kind general waiver ever made by the company. Show + share.” It is highly discussable. Here are a list of teen-friendly books that explore themes and content further for teen collections:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
This explores that even though there has been a lot done to dismantle Jim Crow Laws, “the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control.” It looks at most people who use or sell illegal drugs are white, but in many states 90 percent of those arrested and sent to prison for drug offenses are black or Latino. This in turns means that those incarcerated or on probation or parole are often denied employment, housing, education and public benefits. Written by a civil-rights lawyer, this is an engaging read that teens will appreciate in its readability and arguments.
Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time by James William Kilgore
Much like The New Jim Crow this explores how mass incarceration of African Americans and Latinos is creating a system where civil liberties are being violated through the criminal justice system. This also explores issues of mental illness and gender identification in the criminal justice system, and talks about the debilitating financial pressure that those arrested and their families face from court fees and fines. Teens will appreciate this engaging narrative and introduction to mass incarceration that offers an overview with enough facts and figures. Continue reading 13th Documentary Reading List for Teens