Documentary about the San Francisco County Jails, which house people convicted of minor crimes such as theft and prostitution. The tape mainly argues (through interviews) that most of the inmates are in jail because they are poor and that the prison system only exacerbates the problem.
00:00 African-American man talks about police racism and brutality.
01:40 Title “Dead Action.”
01:55 Footage of inmates sweeping floor. Tour of jail cells with warden unlocking doors. San Francisco police department. Shots of bored inmates. Exterior shots of jail.
05:15 S.F. County jails, San Bruno California. Text about jail residents, and how most are there for minor crimes and stay only a few months and most cannot afford lawyers.
06:05 Inmate talks about how unfair it is that most of the women are in prison and how useless the jail time is for improving their lives. She says none of them are given help to rehabilitate themselves since most are in jail for crimes related to poverty, like prostitution.
07:50 Women explains which medicines they take. Most seem to be in poor health and most prisoners appear to be on many medications.
09:00 Former jail doctor talks about jail life and its dangers and the reasons patients value medications so much.
09:55 Footage of prisoners working out. Man claims that all of the prisoners are in jail only for trying to survive. He says society doesn’t give any breaks to poor people and that’s why so many end up in jail.
12:55 Footage of kitchen operations and people filing in to cafeteria. After dinner the inmates sit in a common area and smoke.
16:10 Woman explains how she was given the wrong medications and had adverse reactions. She was not allowed to see a doctor and she refused to take any more medications. She claims the wardens were trying to force her to take medications that were harming her.
17:50 Former jail doctor talks about his fights with authorities about getting adequate funding for basic health care. He was not able to effect any changes; meanwhile, inmates often died of preventable causes. He no longer thinks change will ever happen.
20:05 Footage of inmates. Man says no one changes after prison; they still have the same reasons for turning to crime as when they came in. Another man also claims that even if one doesn’t commit a crime, people who have been in jail are often arrested for other people’s crimes.
22:35 Woman claims that police try to force you to snitch on others or else they blame the case on you. She points out that many women turn to prostitution out of desperation, while the men who go to prostitutes go free.
24:00 Warden locks cells. Woman does voiceover saying that people are not in jail for real crimes, but for the “crime” of being poor.
25:43 End of Tape.