[The 90’s raw: Erika Becker, prison reform]

This tape features raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Videomaker Eddie Becker interviews his daughter, Erika Becker, about what it's like growing up in the nineties. Becker also interviews two representatives from the Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, who talk about the need for prison reform in the United States.

00:00Copy video clip URL Erika Becker begins to talk about the issues kids face while growing up in the nineties. She states that growing up in the nineties is far different from when her father was growing up. Erika talks about the high number of media outlets in comparison to when her father was growing up during the dawn of television. She goes on to talk about some of her television watching habits.

02:06Copy video clip URL When asked about her general way of thinking in comparison to other children her age, Erika states that every kid is different. She goes on to talk about the differences between children in the U.S. and children overseas.

03:33Copy video clip URL When asked about the difficulty she experiences as a young person, Erika cites troubles with parents as one of the main issues. “They want us to be the same as they were, sort of, when they were young and do the same things or be interested in the same things…” She goes on to talk about the best parts of being a kids and states that the lack of responsibility is one of the most important aspects of childhood. She goes on to talk about how she would raise her children if she were to have them. She states that she would raise her children similarly to how she has been raised. Erika also labels her parents as “cool.” Erika also goes on to talk about her friends’ smoking habits and how they developed due to rebellious tendencies.

08:35Copy video clip URL Erika talks about the importance of honesty in a parent/child relationship. She goes on to talk about the lack of understanding between a child and their parents.

10:33Copy video clip URL Becker begins to ask Erika about an operation she had to correct a problem due to her cerebral palsy. She talks about the disease and the operation in detail. She also talk about her ability to walk. Erika also talks about dealing with the teasing and stares she receives due to her disability. She states that she normally ignores most of those comments. She goes on to talk about her previous experience talking about her problems with the disease on television for The 90’s. She states that it was a fun experience. She and Eddie share their feelings on the subject.

15:36Copy video clip URL Erika states that she thinks of herself as “special” and remains positive about her ailment. She then begins to talk about her schooling and the need for a more constructive school day and more avenues for socializing. She also calls for more discussion oriented classes specifically pertaining to current events. Erika goes on to talk about a Gulf War protest she attended with her father outside of the White House.

23:38Copy video clip URL Erika talks about her future aspirations in becoming an environmental lawyer or doctor. She talks about the possible obstacles she may face because of her disability, but remains positive in being able to overcome them.

26:15Copy video clip URL Eddie asks Erika if there are any other handicapped children at her school. Erika replies sadly that she is the “only one.” The interview ends shortly afterward.

27:27Copy video clip URL Cut to an interview with two representatives from Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, who share their views on the current prison system in the U.S. The woman promotes the idea of meaningful programming for the incarcerated and states that there is a general lack of it in U.S. prisons. “There are some. There are some, and they’re models, but they’re few and far between and those models should be cloned or duplicated and we keep hearing the money’s not there. And the reason the money’s not there is because we insist on locking everybody up and therefore we have no money for the folks that really need the intensive, rehabilitative programming.” The woman then talks about the programming problems that plague prisons across the U.S. and labels the system as unrealistic.

30:56Copy video clip URL The woman talks about the effect the current system has on prisoners. The other representative goes on to lay out the organization’s opinion on an effective and rehabilitative prison sentence. He first states that prisons should only be used for offenders who absolutely have to be there. He then emphasizes the need for rehabilitation opportunities for those incarcerated and lays out the organization’s views on prison construction. “We really feel that there should be a moratorium on prison construction… We feel strongly, and I think society is beginning to see that society cannot build itself out of the overcrowding problem.” He goes on to give a few statistics on the current prison population and prison growth across the U.S.

38:32Copy video clip URL The other representative comments, “Jesse Jackson always says, ‘We’re robbing the school house to build the jailhouse.'” The other representative goes on to remark on prison costs and states that society is unaware of the exorbitant costs of running a prison. He goes on to talk about the need for more rehabilitative programs for prisoners. He states that through prison production, we will probably only end up warehousing prisoners instead of rehabilitating them.

41:29Copy video clip URL The representative talks about the big move to expand the federal prison system, stating that their organization is going to challenge the Bush administration on this policy. They hope to make some type of dent in the building and overcrowding problem in prisons. The other representative comments on the media’s negative portrayal of all prisoners. “So I really put the blame back on the politicians and the media that have fed the public this line, that they’re safer if they pour all this money into criminal justice.” She goes on to label the prison correctional officials as “schizophrenic.” “They’ll say we shouldn’t be locking up all these people, but when you ask them to publicly state that and start to tell the public who they have in their prisons, they all back off because they’re all part of the political system. Their jobs depend on a politician. So it’s a quagmire.” The woman goes on to talk about an alcoholic who was arrested for public urination. Eight police officers showed up for the arrest. The woman then states, “It just was an example of the criminal justice system: we have a lot of arrests, we have a lot of people locked up, but we never ask the basic question: who are we locking up?” The two representatives go on to talk about the introduction of meaningful criminal justice reforms.

54:42Copy video clip URL One of the representatives talks about the solutions to the current problems plaguing prisons across the U.S. He talks about his organization’s presence throughout the country. He goes on to say that positive changes to the prison system will not come through the courts but through grassroots efforts. “Maybe the day will come when we will have our march on Washington. Maybe the day will come that we can begin really to be taken seriously with a prison reform agenda.”

57:36Copy video clip URL The representative talks about the state of Minnesota and their handling of the prison system. Their guidelines are based upon the capacity of the prison system. He goes on to say, “Since 1980, the Federal Bureau of Prison’s prisoner population has doubled in the last ten years. It will double again in the next four years at the rate we are sentencing people to prison.” He goes on to talk about the Attica prison riot of 1971. The other representative talks about some of the declining resources and calls for a review for clemency.

01:04:37Copy video clip URL One of the representatives states that there is no offense in the prison reform movement. He states that the group’s goal is to abolish the death penalty on a federal level. The rep states that it’s a long way off but possible. “I think society will come to a point, particularly with the death penalty–we thought in our lifetime that the death penalty would not ever come back but it has, and so I think you can make the argument that if we do away with the death penalty this time, to make sure that it never comes back in future generations that we need to put the abolition of the death penalty in the constitution, and this is what the criminal justice amendment would do.”

01:08:08Copy video clip URL The two reps talk about the ethical problems that have plagued members of Congress. One rep goes on to talk about a specific program to provide proper care for unborn children in prison that she lobbied for. The other rep begins to talk about their history in lobbying for prison reform.

01:14:59Copy video clip URL One of the reps begins to talk about their opponents in the prison reform debate.

01:22:39Copy video clip URL Cut back to an interview with Erika Becker. She talks about the difficulty in being a child and the need for parents to prepare them for unforeseen circumstances. She goes on to talk about the peer pressure in Jr. High and the amount of kids who smoke. Erika states that she’s tried a cigarette and states that she’ll never do it again. She goes on to talk about her parents’ rebellious tendencies and the example that they set for her.

01:30:19Copy video clip URL Erika states that it is more difficult being a kid in the nineties in comparison to when her father was growing up. She goes on to talk about her decision-making process and her thoughts on religion. Erika states that she believes in her own god and that she doesn’t believe in organized religion. Becker goes on to ask his daughter about the cliques in her school. Erika describes the many cliques, stating that she is not a part of any one of them, since she has numerous friends in almost every group.

01:35:39Copy video clip URL When asked about her purpose for living, Erika doesn’t answer. She and her father discuss the issue of our existence on the planet having a purpose. She goes on to talk about her hopes to become an actress. Eventually, Erika talks about the spontaneity in life being important.

01:38:32Copy video clip URL When asked whether she would want to be a consumer or creator, Erika responds quickly and states that she’d rather be a creator. She then shows her father some of her earrings that she made.

01:40:15Copy video clip URL When asked what it was like being a child of divorce, Erika talks about the effect her parents’ divorce has had on her. She goes on to say that everyone in her first period class, including the teacher, has experienced divorce. Erika goes on to talk about a friend who has developed a positive relationship with his stepfather. The two discuss the issue of divorce and its effect on families. They go on to talk about some of the so called “miracle workers” on television.

01:44:38Copy video clip URL The two begin to talk about normal family problems. Erika talks about the falseness of TV families and then continues to talk about divorce. She goes on to say that if her parents were still together, the relationship would be extremely strained.

01:47:49Copy video clip URL Erika talks about her desire to be a correspondent on The 90’s. She talks about the equipment she would have to buy and states that she already has $400 saved up. The two talk about the appeal of the show to certain demographics. The two go on to talk about an instance in which a few condoms fell out of Erika’s pocket while in school. She goes on to say that most of the kids in her class have condoms. Erika goes on to talk about her own personal wardrobe. Her father goes on to ask her about the importance of libraries. Erika states that the library is a useful resource.

01:55:04Copy video clip URL Erika begins to interview her father. Erika begins to ask him a few random questions. She eventually asks him what it’s like being an adult in the nineties. Becker states that it’s very difficult and that there’s nothing in youth that can prepare one for the difficulty of adulthood. There is a loud buzzing sound that becomes very prominent during this portion of the tape. He goes on to talk about the difficulty in being a parent. This lasts for the remainder of the tape.

02:02:20Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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