Thursday, August 04, 2011


Books are golden to me. I read constantly. I also watch much TV and am passionate about a good movie. Documentary films are my absolute favorite so I am just head over heels for Oprah’s new documentary club on the OWN network. The first original documentary, SERVING LIFE aired recently and I was hooked.

Narrated and executive produced by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker the film takes viewers inside Louisiana's maximum security prison at Angola, where the average sentence is more than 90 years. The prisoners within its walls are considered the worst of the worst with prison sentences so long that 85 percent will never again live in the outside world. My character Manroot Tucker in my latest book Rested Waters, dies while incarcerated at Angola for the murder of his wife.

Serving Life documents an extraordinary hospice program where hardened criminals care for their dying fellow inmates. Revealing the humanity that exists inside each and every one of us, the Angola prison's hospice program is a volunteer situation whose participates must pass a rigorous interview process and training program. They are pushed and tested as they embark on an experience that inevitably ends in their personal rehabilitation.

The volunteers embrace most everything that is asked of them. They tend to the personal needs and hygiene of prisoners who are gravely ill or have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Most of the patients are aged and have lived most of their adult lives behind bars. Some have no family or haven’t seen family in years. They are alone and they are dying and when they have reached a point of no return it is a hospice volunteer who sits vigil with them until the end, allowing them to die with true dignity.

I wept through most of this film. Knowing its impact on me and others who have viewed it, I can only imagine the effect it has to have on the men who are living it on a daily basis. A standing ovation for producer and director Lisa R. Cohen.

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