Documentary Screening at IU Northwest Sheds Light on Mass Incarceration in U.S.

rot1Indiana University Northwest’s One Book…One Campus…One Community reading initiative kicks into high gear Saturday, Oct. 4 with the screening of a highly anticipated documentary that will fuel the discussion of themes in the latest book selection for the 2014-15 academic year, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander.

Directed by John Lucas, The Cooler Bandits follows four young men who, in 1991, committed a series of restaurant robberies in Akron, Ohio. Their actions resulted in enormous consequences that forever altered their lives. Despite no one being injured as a result of their crimes, the teenagers received prison sentences of up to 500 years. The film examines the staggering statistic of African-American men who are branded as felons for life. The documentary follows the friends through various stages of their incarceration and their struggles to confront their futures.

The campus and community are invited to the free screening at 5 p.m. in the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium, located in the Savannah Center. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. A question-and-answer session will follow the film, giving the audience an opportunity to hear directly from the films’ creator, as well as some of the men featured in the film.

To learn more about The Cooler Bandits, visit

Admission is free, but seating is limited, so please arrive early. For information, call (219) 980-6889.

The New Jim Crow
The themes explored in The New Jim Crow complement those of the film.

In fact, the book’s author, Michelle Alexander, a law professor and attorney, collaborated with Lucas on the film, providing her insights and broad perspective of the national crisis of incarceration.

Alexander said that “today, there are more African-American adults under correctional control – in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. But this has not been driven my crime rates. This has been driven by a wave of punitive-ness directed at poor people of color, particularly young African-American men.”

Alexander’s non-fiction book is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African-Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status — denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide.

Get Involved
Now entering its third year, IU Northwest’s One Book…One Campus…One Community reading initiative is an opportunity for the campus, and the greater community, to collectively examine issues explored in The New Jim Crow.

Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, the campus and surrounding community are encouraged to the join the discussion, participate in events and reflect on the themes and learning points. Throughout the academic year, the book will be integrated into classroom curricula, giving IU Northwest students, faculty and staff the opportunity to reflect on the diversity of themes.

Each month, a book discussion will focus on a different theme of the book, brought to life with intellectual and fun activities. Additional details and updates on the IU Northwest One Book…One Campus…One Community reading initiative can be found at

The book is available for purchase at the IU Northwest Book Store, as well as through