The Virginia Department of Corrections commissioned a $28.500 film about itself recently, but the citizen board that advises it has given "Another Way" a bad review.
The 23-minute color film presents a too favorable picture of the problem ridden prison system, state corrections board members say and gives the impression that educational, vocational, physical and medical facilities are more grand than they really are.
"It shows waht were would desire (the prison system to be) but it doesn't paint a true picture or show the depth that we need to show the public where we stand," said board member William S. Leach, a harware store operator in Middleburg. "It's a fine work of public relations."
Department spokesman Wayne Farrar said the film was intended as a "public information tool to tell what the department is and what it does," that will be used to "comply with requests from civic groups for programs."
Farrar also questioned board members objections to the film as, too favorable. He said that the film did include references to overcrowding, the problem of idleness, and said that some facilities are "less-than ideal.
"It shows 160 inmates housed in a converted industrial area and shown in idle, crowded conditions," Farrar said. "It mentions the need for improved youth services and the projected alarming increase in population. You can't say everything in a 28-minute film."
Farrar said 90 per cent of the film's cost was funded with federal money through the Law Enforcement Assistance Admiration.
"There's one scene showing an inmate getting medical treatment that leaves you with the impression our facilities are equal to the Medical College of Virginia," complained board member Walther Fiddler, a lawyer in Warsaw. Fiddler, former board chairman, said the film doesn't show anything that doesn't exist, but fails to show how small and limited various programs are.
"If you didn't know anything about it you'd think Virginia was the model system for the whole country from looking at this film," he said, "You'd think it was utopia. It gives the impression our system is nice, well financed, and doing a wonderful job.
We know isn't quite right."
The Virginia prison system is so overcrowded that prisoners are housed in trailers and in county jails, and although then state has approved a building program, projections are that even when completed the system will be between 2,000 and 4,000 bed short.
Other board members complained that the film might influence legislators not to appropriate more money for prisons.
"This film was not made to show to the appropriations committee," Farrar said, "I wish the board would consider the intent and purpose for which it was made. It's a prettey elementary film."
Farrar said the department will show the film, but so far has not received any requests. "We didn't ask the board members to review it," he added, "They asked tosee it themselves."