( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) New Docuseries “Released” Premieres on OWN September 30th 10 pm ET/PT
The Oprah Winfrey Network is a leading destination for premium scripted and unscripted programming from today’s most innovative storytellers creating a global conversation. ENSPIRE Magazine had the pleasure to speak with consulting producer and author Shaka Senghor of OWN’s new documentary “Released” executive produced by Oprah Winfrey. While many may disagree, accounts of life after incarceration are family stories. “Released” takes a closer look at everyone whose lives are affected – husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – in order to fully understand the current crisis. The series documents the formerly incarcerated and their loved ones as they set out to revive and restore their lives. For each family, there will be conflict and struggle, but there will also be hope and joy, as they look toward true freedom past the first 90 days.
Consulting producer and author, Shaka Senghor has a first-hand understanding of what it means to pick up the pieces of your life after serving a sentence. Growing up in Detroit in his young teenage years Senghor got caught up in the street life. After pleading guilty to a murder charge that led to someone’s death at the age of 19, young Senghor was sentenced to 40 years in prison. By the grace of God, he served 19 years before being released from prison. After being released, Shaka made it his mission to reach others and tell his story. He went from TED talks to having Oprah Winfrey read his book titled Writing My Wrongs.
After reading the first 60 pages Oprah knew that she wanted to interview him and have him on Super Soul Sunday. From that time they continued a relationship where Oprah reached out to Shaka to come aboard to produce Released. She felt his voice and what he has been through would be an asset to the documentary.
“Released” is an 8 part docuseries of 6 people (5 men, 1 woman) documenting their release from prison with the diverse complexities of being reunited with family, loved ones and society. The audience gets to see a reflection of the community and the realities that most people face in this situation. The show humanizes the situation to relate to different people in different circumstances once released from prison. The first episode the audience is introduced to former inmates Kevin, Kay, and Jermaine who have served decades behind bars and are being reunited with family, loved ones and society. Each individual is faced with their own challenges but under the same circumstances.
Released shows how important it is to have structure when someone is released from prison. There is none for them. Families do not always know how to offer that support or know where to get it from. The transition is an extensive journey on all ends depending on the individual’s release requirements. #Cut50 and Just Leadership USA were a few of the resources Shaka mentioned for families or individuals in situations similar to those seen in Released.
Shaka gave several examples of how being released from prison changes someone’s mental, social and physical state. Using himself and Tupac Shakur as a few of many examples.
Tupac’s music was and is culturally relevant but his music shifted after he got out of jail..#PayAttention.
The transition from being in jail and released is more complicated than seen in movies or face value. These are people who have been caged and told what to do for years. These people are traumatized and so are their families. Some inmates cannot even read past third-grade level, some can but for both situations still one will have to apply themselves to the always changing job market and society. What type of skills can one apply after being in prison? Some inmates left families where they were the breadwinner and with them gone that has changed. How do they break the habits other family members or loved ones had to form while they were gone? Some have spent little or no time with their children and by the time they get out they have to explain the situation. How do you break this down to your child? How do the families or loved ones welcome back their missing piece after so many years? These are all questions that are not really answered but visually depicted in the lives of people in “Released.”
The conversation at the time ended but brought life to another. What can we do with our platforms to continue the conversation to lead to more assistance for families and some reform in the system to consider people it affects? Are we not supposed to still consider these individuals human? Where is the empathy? No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and have to own up to it, but does that mean one should be an outcast, not deserve empathy or be forgotten.
Please make sure that you tune to the OWN September 30th, 10 pm ET/PT