Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind Bars

Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind BarsClick here to download
Lives in Focus is vlogging the impact on family relations and dynamics when one or more member of a family is incarcerated. How do some families overcome the separation, financial strain, social stigma and guilt while others crumble? Why is there a greater likelihood that a child of someone who is in prison will also end up in jail at some point? How do society, politics or special interests help or hinder family relations?

I plan to post a video about three minutes in length that focuses on a particular theme showcased through a family’s life. How do such obstacles impact the relationship between a parent and child (both the parent who remains at home and the one in prison)? Between husband and wife? Between siblings? Is there anticipation or dread or tedium at the thought of the long hike on visiting day? How are family relations re-established when a prisoner is released? What are the unforeseen consequences of being released? What efforts do inmates make to stay in touch from within prison walls?

These short, thematic vlogs will show people in their daily lives with relevant audio from interviews. I plan to post on a regular once-a-week schedule for 3 to 6 months.

I also plan to loan video cameras to a few families we select. Lives in Focus has already agreed to set up workshops in conjunction with Prison Families of New York to train these families to document their own lives. We will edit this material and post it to the vlog, giving credit to the families. The videos will be available to the public for free for non-commerical use with a Creative Commons copyright.

Lives in Focus is NOT questioning the guilty verdict that sent people to prison. We also recognize that many crimes upset the lives of others–in extreme cases even depriving families of their own loved ones. Lives in Focus believes, however, that it is important to document and be aware of the repercussions that imprisonment has on an inmate’s family, a large and growing population in America.

As an award-winning journalist who wrote frequently for the New York Times and as a journalism professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, I have already gained access to prisoners and their families. I have a strong track record working with people who are often ostracized by society. The previous Lives in Focus project, shot in 2005, documented the lives of men, women and children in India who are HIV+ or have AIDS.

Project Site: Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind Bars
Subscribe to the project.

A note from Jay Dedman, Lives in Focus’ advocate:

I met Sandeep when he wrote an NY Times article on Videoblogging back in 2005. It was the first time a journalist really seemed to respect what we were doing in the Videoblogging Community. We weren’t just people making funny viral videos, but actually had the ability to make videos of consequence. He ended up starting his own videoblog, Lives in Focus, helping set the example of what we can do with this new medium without boundaries. Any ambitious project needs some money to get started, so help fund the work we want to see.

Deliverables Approx. 1 video/wk for 3-6 months
Timeline To begin immediately
Purpose Equipment and Expenses
Amount $2500
Recipient Sandeep Junnarkar
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$ 2514 raised
to date!!


» anon $ 25
» Suni and Stephan $ 100
» pavithra and ramesh $ 50
» Milt Lee $ 12
» Richard $ 10
» Julie Setele $ 25
» Lalitha & Gopal $ 101
» Jim Hu $ 50
» Freeman $ 700
» Donya Fernandez $ 50
» Meena Modak and Rehka $ 50
» Sushama Mehta $ 50
» Aditi Dhruv $ 25
» Ryanne $ 20
» JD $ 25
» Eddie Codel $ 20
» Charles Richardson $ 50
» Jeff Jarvis $ 100
» kent & jen $ 20
» Beth Kanter $ 10
» Kant Desai $ 51
» Devlon $ 10
» Radha-Mukund $ 200
» Larry $ 100
» Rahul $ 50
» Dave H. $ 10
» Roxanne Darling $ 25
» hariharan sreenivasan $ 100
» phil campbell $ 20
» Peter Van Dijck $ 20
» carlos $ 100
» Verdi $ 20
» Jan / The Faux Press $ 20
» Gokcen Karan $ 10
» Markus $ 125
» Jay $ 10

Leave a Reply

48 Responses to “Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind Bars”

  1. Says:

    Another successfully crowdfunded project at…

    Click here to download
    Lives in Focus is vlogging the impact on family relations and dynamics when one or more member of a family is incarcerated. How do some families overcome the separation, financial strain, social stigma…

  2. $ 25

    anonymous pledge Says:

    Looking forward to watching.

  3. $ 100

    Suni and Stephan Says:

    Best wishes in this important work. And congrats on doing so well in meeting your fundraising goal!

  4. $ 50

    pavithra and ramesh Says:

    many blessings on this work… there is also good work being done to hold our government accountable for the prison industrial complex. you may all be aware that many immigrants awaiting hearings from ICE are held in prison complex detention centers across the country, (despite being IN PROCEEDINGS for asylum etc) That our prisons are places of great violence (rape, murder, physical violence, the theat of violence, work without pay and that’s just what the prisoners endure from the guards), and health care at prisons is never as good as the worst health care in our worst hospitals in the cities… which i gather you know isnt all that hot. Our resident rikers island in NYC has 12 high schools 11 for boys and 1 for girls and that more than half of the population has NOT been convicted - they are folks that cant make bail for minor offenses and the population is over 60 thousand folks. there are lots of ways to think about prisons… one powerful way is to consider that the number of black prisoners - exponentially rose immediately after emancipation from slavery… hmmm i wonder.

    again many blessings.

  5. pending

    Sunita and Stephan Says:

    Good luck with this exciting endeavor and I am so glad that you have just about achieved your goal.

  6. not disclosed

    Markus Says:

    I met Sandeep in NYC at the Grass Roots Media Conference and he pointed out how the cameras can be (re)used with other projects.

  7. $ 12

    Milt Lee Says:

    This is something that needs to be done. We’ve worked with children of incarcerated parents here in South Dakota, and it’s really, really hard. But it is so helpful.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your work.

  8. $ 10

    Richard Says:

    Another important project. I’m happy to support it.

  9. $ 25

    Julie Setele Says:

    best wishes in helping those our society is so quick to ignore, to have a platform from which to make their voices heard.

  10. $ 101

    Lalitha & Gopal Says:

    Good Luck!

  11. $ 50

    Jim Hu Says:

    Go Deep!

  12. not disclosed

    anonymous pledge Says:

    good luck

  13. $ 700

    Freeman Says:

    Good Luck!

  14. $ 50

    Donya Fernandez Says:

    This will be facinating because most people w/o family in prison know very little about the subject. Many prisons are located in remote areas making it difficult for visitors.

    With the huge prison industrial complex in this country, cost to taxpayers, and harm to prisoners’ children, families, and communities, we really need to think about why we are locking up so many people that do not pose a threat to society.

  15. $ 50

    Meena Modak and Rehka Says:

    Good look with the project.

  16. $ 50

    Sushama Mehta Says:

    Best of Luck!

  17. $ 25

    Aditi Dhruv Says:

    Really looking forward to seeing this.

  18. $ 20

    Ryanne Says:

    can’t wait to see this happen!

  19. MICHAEL VERDI : Sponsorship Says:

    […] Lives in Focus Donate to Lives in Focus at Have Money Will Vlog […]

  20. $ 25

    JD Says:

    Good luck!

  21. $ 20

    Eddie Codel Says:

    excellent project idea!

  22. $ 50

    Charles Richardson Says:

    best of luck

  23. BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Supporting journalism Says:

    […] My CUNY colleague Sandeep Junnarkar — who makes magnificent multimedia journalism at Lives in Focus, where he last reported on AIDS in India — is embarking on his next project: the impact on families when one of your own is behind bars. He’s already getting amazing reporting. But to realize his full ambition, he needs to raise money to loan video cameras to the families so they can document their experiences. It’s easy to contribute through Have Money Will Vlog, which enables networked journalism by helping you to support these projects. I just gave. Won’t you? […]

  24. $ 100

    Jeff Jarvis Says:


  25. $ 20

    kent & jen Says:

    great stuff.

  26. Colombia Migration Project at Says:

    […] Also, feel free to go to HMWV and support the current fundraising project. […]

  27. $ 10

    Beth Kanter Says:

    good luck!

  28. $ 51

    Kant Desai Says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing this…

  29. $ 10

    Devlon Says:

    Good luck!

  30. $ 200

    Radha-Mukund Says:

    Good luck.

  31. $ 100

    Larry Says:

    Good luck

  32. $ 50

    Rahul Says:

    I am sure there are good reasons for keeping the target amount so modest, but It would be a shame if the tight budget limited the project in any way. I mean, loaning cameras, training workshops, all the editing involved…

    Hopefully, people wont see the $2500 as a limit, and will continue to contribute if they are inspired by the initial results. I urge you guys to set up the mechanics for the project to grow proportionately to people’s interest.

  33. $ 10

    Dave H. Says:

    I very worthy project! Can’t wait to see how it develops.

  34. $ 25

    Roxanne Darling Says:

    Thank you for setting this up. We are very happy to support this project and your efforts have made it so easy. If there are any activities taking place in Hawai’i, please let us know if we can be of assistance “on the ground.”

  35. $ 100

    hariharan sreenivasan Says:

    look forward to the finished product.

  36. $ 20

    phil campbell Says:

    good luck with the project

  37. $ 20

    Peter Van Dijck Says:

    Good luck!

  38. $ 100

    carlos Says:

    an essential part of the story that’s rarely told
    great work!
    happy to be able to support it!

  39. NewTeeVee » Niche Vlogs get some Fund-Finding Help Says:

    […] It’s the kind of project that’s well suited to the web, utilizing multimedia and reaching out to a small but distinct community. But it’s not the kind of project that’s easy to find funding for — ‘viral’ comedy clips and stealth advertising is attracting the easy money right now. Enter Have Money Will Vlog, a site that’s had great success in raising up to $3,000 in a matter of weeks to fund projects. With the help of ‘advocate’ and co-founder Jay Dedman, Junnarkar has put together a pitch for the project and is accepting donations towards a goal of $2,500. […]

  40. $ 20

    Verdi Says:

    Really well done. This is going to be an interesting project.

  41. $ 20

    Jan / The Faux Press Says:

    It is good for us to look at the difficult as well as the beautiful. Thanks and good luck!

  42. $ 25

    anonymous pledge Says:

    This is a really worthy project

  43. $ 25

    anonymous pledge Says:

    This will be fascinating! I have no ideas about what the lives of prisoner families is day to day.

  44. $ 10

    Gokcen Karan Says:

    video is change everything!…

  45. pending

    Dave H. Says:

    A worthy project, I’m excited to see how it develops.

  46. Freevlog » Have Money Will Vlog: Lives in Focus-Family Life Behind Bars Says:

    […] This is the new project over at Have Money Will Vlog. We fully support this project and hope you will too by going over there and throwing Sandeep a dime! […]

  47. $ 25

    Markus Says:

    Excellent project!

  48. $ 10

    Jay Says:

    Let’s kick this thing off!!