There remains a strange irony in the romantic intrigue we have with a population of people that we’ve systematically closed off from society and largely ignored. Before making this documentary within the Oklahoma prison system, we as filmmakers were mostly informed by the cultural lore of prison through film and music such as Cool Hand Luke, Stir Crazy, and Folsom Prison Blues.
The incarcerated individuals we got to know while filming in the Oklahoma State Penitentiaries have removed some of the other-worldliness of prison life and closed the gap between inmate and filmmaker -thus providing us a better understanding of their plight.
A gained sense of humanity for the offenders became a guiding theme in telling their stories. We don’t attempt to make these people out to be victims of the penal system, or to excuse or glamorize their actions. They’re simply people like all us with their own families and stories.
We’d like to use this documentary and the stories of the people connected with the film to help recognize the lives of inmates and those re-integrating into society. Through prison and public screenings, community forums and an outreach plan, we’d like to create grassroots dialogue to improve awareness of issues and create opportunities. In addition, Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo is establishing a Scholarship for inmates attending college while incarcerated.