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Serving Life (2011)

TV Movie  -  Documentary  -  28 July 2011 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 252 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 3 critic

Actor Forest Whitaker narrates the story of a group of inmate volunteers who staff their own hospice inside a maximum security prison in Louisiana where the average sentence is more than 90 years.

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Title: Serving Life (TV Movie 2011)

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Actor Forest Whitaker narrates the story of a group of inmate volunteers who staff their own hospice inside a maximum security prison in Louisiana where the average sentence is more than 90 years.

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Care And Compassion In The Most Unexpected Environment
2 September 2013 | by (Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

I appreciated the basic message here very much. It's set in the Louisiana State Prison - not a place where you normally expect to see much caring and compassion. It's where the worst of the worst go, as we're told early on. Most of them lifers; others serving extremely long prison terms; few with any hope of getting out. And because the inmates are serving extremely long sentences, they get old and they get sick and they need care. So Warden Burl Cain decided to set up a hospice program to provide care for those prisoners who were dying - staffed mostly by inmate volunteers.

The basic message is great. You learn about caring by providing care; you learn about compassion by being compassionate. The inmates who participate in the volunteer program (who are carefully selected) are transformed by the experience, and often come to see their life and their crimes in a new light. Meanwhile, the dying inmates are shown both care and compassion while being allowed to die with dignity, and never to die alone if possible, since as the end of life comes imminent, 24 hour shifts of volunteers are established.

It's a different look at life in prison. No gangs or prison rapes or anything like that. Just caring and compassion - dignity being both given and received in an environment in which there had likely been little caring or compassion. Narrated by Forest Whitaker, I thought the biggest flaw in this was that it was a little bit long, and became repetitive after a while. As I said, the basic message and lesson was simple, and maybe didn't need as much time as it received. But it's a very moving story. (6/10)


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