What Is the Real Cost of Mass Incarceration?

The documentary ‘Milwaukee 53206’ depicts the toll of the prison epidemic on families and entire communities.

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When documentary producers first approached Beverly Walker about featuring her family in a film, the Milwaukee mother and grandmother knew what that meant: cameras trailing them, her cherished privacy breached.

But her husband, Baron Walker, by then having served nearly two decades of a 60-year sentence, saw an opportunity.

“I thought it could be quite helpful, though at the moment I didn’t know to what extent,” says Baron, who had been sentenced in 1996 for being party to a pair of bank robberies. “In prison you have no voice…. This movie, I realized, could be that voice…”

Baron Walker couldn’t have known then that it would eventually lead to his release.

Milwaukee 53206 is an hourlong film demonstrating how the human cost of mass incarceration plays out in one devastated ZIP code in Wisconsin’s largest city. The film illustrates the toll on children, spouses, and entire communities by telling the Walker family story; of Baron Walker’s effort to remain connected to them while still in prison, helping the children with their homework. . .

 

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