The concept was familiar and yet weird for many in the most recent episode of “Released”– seeing a black man leave the prison after long period of incarceration meet his family and friends before going on to face his new life. This entire episode was captured by a waiting camera crew for the television.
It would seem that the recent widespread of reality shows happen for the wrong reasons, but it is going to be the start of new life of complexities faced by former inmates as they try to adjust to normal life.
This is what “Released”, the new docu-series on Oprah Winfrey Network seeks to explore. Seeing as the dishonor of being a former inmate is not easily removed, they must also face a number of other obstacles.
“These are fellow citizens,” Shaka Senghor, co-producer of “Released,” said of former prisoners during an interview with NewsOne on Friday. “They’re humans who shouldn’t be judged for the rest of their lives based on a poor decision.”
The show captures the release of six former inmates in real-time and their lives, post-prison. According to Senghor, it is proof that inmates can turn out well and do something noteworthy, regardless of the challenges of adjusting to civilian life.
Having served 19 years behind bars for second degree murder, Senghor used the experience as an inspiration for writing a book.
It wasn’t just his time in prison – during his time, he got a letter from his son and that gave him the perspective and motivation to write the book, “Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison.” He explained that life-changing moment summarizes much of the purpose of ‘Released’.
“What actually works [for life after prison] is having the love and support of people who are willing to hold you accountable as you make your adjustment back to society.
So critical to a person’s success is having people who believe in me, people who help me stay on the straight path,” Said Senghor.
Senghor reiterated that that was no script of direction, even though ‘Released’ is a TV production. This is crucial to exploring the challenges of getting released from prison, and how relationships have been affected by incarceration.
“There is a shame attached to” being a convict, even after a debt is repaid to society through imprisonment, Senghor acknowledged. “We want people to get over that shame.
“Released” is billed to air over a period of eight weeks on Saturday nights on OWN at 10 p.m. ET, 10 p.m. PT and 9 p.m. CT.