Documentary examines the impact of prison life from both sides

Aug 20, 2012

According to local law professor, inmates and guards in New York's maximum security prisons share many similarities. The findings led to a new documentary about the "human cost" of long-term exposure to Attica State Prison.

University at Buffalo law professor Teresa Miller has spent 17 years studying and working in prisons. Miller says the public is probably familiar with the stress inmates endure, but would be surprised to know that correction officers share many similarities, including high rates of health complications, suicide, depression, substance abuse and job stress.   

"The life expectancy for correctional officers is similar to that of coal miners in West Virginia. This is a tough job that takes its toll on your body," Miller said.

After a lengthy process, Miller gained permission to videotape deep inside Attica and talk to people on both sides of the bars in an effort to raise awareness about the human cost of incarceration.

One interview takes her to a group meeting of "lifers."

"You walk in and they're planning qualify of life initiatives for the prison," said Miller, citing debates over the jail's education committee and a boxing program.

Miller's film "Attica: The Bars That Bind Us" is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2013.