Scene from OWN Docuseries 'Released'
Mass Incarceration

New Docuseries ‘Released’ Explains How Mass Incarceration Effects Black Families

Oprah Winfrey is illuminating the damaging aftermath of mass incarceration on Black families in a new OWN docuseries entitled, “Released.” She’s teamed up with ex-inmate Shaka Senghor, who became an author and motivational speaker after her own release from prison.

Released is the ex-prisoner series by Shaka Senghor. It features the story of ex-inmate Shaka Senghor.
Released is the ex-prisoner series by Shaka Senghor. It features the story of ex-inmate Shaka Senghor. Image Source: Redefine School

The Team Behind the OWN Docuseries ‘Released’

Oprah Winfrey (right) speaks with ex-prison inmate Shaka Senghor about the OWN TV docuseries 'Released.'
Oprah Winfrey (right) speaks with ex-prison inmate Shaka Senghor about the OWN TV docuseries ‘Released.’ Image Source: Essence

The OWN docuseries revolves around six men and women who have just completed their prison sentences. They face difficulties getting adjusted to life, free from prisons. The executive producers of the show are:

  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Kim Woodard
  • Greg Henry
  • Jarett Lambo
  • Jon Sinclair
  • Keayr Braxton

Acting as a consulting producer on the project is Shaka Senghor, a former inmate turned author and motivational speaker.

All the ex-prisoners highlighted in the series were imprisoned for dissimilar offenses. They are also posed with different challenges after their releases. Yet, they all share similar goals of doing their best to stay out of prison.

About the OWN Docuseries ‘Released’

The OWN docuseries premiered during the Tribeca TV Festival held in New York on Friday. Its first episode had multiple inspiring scenes that brought the viewers to empathize with the experiences of the ex-inmate cast members.

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One of the scenes showed a former inmate who after spending 20 years in jail got into a distraught state after he realized he didn’t understand the snack selection at an airport newsstand.

Scene from OWN Docuseries 'Released'
Scene from OWN Docuseries ‘Released’

Another man tried futilely to restore his relationship with his grown daughter who grew to resent him because of the negative impacts of his crime on her mother.

An equally intriguing storyline in the series is that of a woman in her 60s who was faced with the unanticipated challenges of catering for her special needs son. While she was in prison, her sister had had to cater for the child while she was in prison.

‘Released’ Discussion: Fighting Mass Incarceration

Following the premiere, Shaka Senghor, alongside Oprah and many other members of the production team had a panel discussion concerning the docuseries. They discussed with the audience concerning the inadequacy of resources for former inmates after release, and why redemption is the major focus all through the show.

According to Oprah:

“Every person on the show had a moment that changed their lives and eventually led them to where they ended up.”

When the chat began, the media icon mentioned her wish to ensure the reality of the docuseries was inspired after reading Senghor’s book, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in An American Prison.

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To corroborate Oprah’s opinion, Senghor said that:

“…everybody has the ability retell their story and to be redeemed.”

Released premieres Saturday, September 30, at 10 PM on OWN.

Emmanuel O
Emmanuel O considers himself more of an artist than a writer. He loves reading and writing poetry and fiction, but on other days, he makes music. Emmanuel has written on diverse topics for many websites and is the author of three books his own. Currently, he's a news reporter for loved ones of incarcerated people for Prison Rideshare Network.