Americas Quarterly, published by the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, featured a review of the Visual Law’s “The Worst of the Worst” in their Winter 2014 edition. Read the full article below and check it out on the AQ site.
Worst of the Worst
Northern, opened in 1995, is a super-maximum security (supermax) institution, housing 227 inmates judged too dangerous for normal prison facilities and prohibited from any human interaction for 23 hours per day.
The film graphically explores the psychological toll solitary confinement takes on prisoners. Hallucinations and suicidal tendencies are common. At the same time, corrections officers experience their own traumas, compounded often by the guards’ unwillingness to discuss their emotions. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The prisoners, meanwhile, are not always the hardened criminals that they are made out to be. Many end up in supermax facilities after accruing disciplinary tickets for minor infractions in lower-security institutions.
Ultimately, The Worst of the Worst aims to inspire prison reform and challenge the notion that supermax facilities house the “worst of the worst.”
“The full-circle approach to telling the story of Northern left us with the conclusion that the institution harms everyone it touches… this institution is the worst of the worst,” says Assem Mehta, one of the filmmakers.