Every year about 300,000 kids are confined in juvenile detention in the US. 70-80% percent of those detained will be re-arrested within 3 years. Richmond, Virginia’s families, police, judges, artists, and activists have united to change this in their own community. Virtually Free is a documentary about unlikely allies who partner to transform the juvenile justice system and stop mass incarceration.
In the film, we meet Sid, Taee, and AR, three teens currently being held in a Richmond, VA detention center who are offered the chance to become activists speaking truth to power. Participating in a local arts organizations’ program, Performing Statistics, they are taught by different artists to deliver their powerful, authentic messages to the public, law enforcement, and government officials using their art, including a virtual reality jail cell they’ve helped create.
André Robert Lee and his sister grew up in the ghettos of Philadelphia. Their mother struggled to support them by putting strings in the waistbands of track pants and swimsuits in a local factory. When André was 14 years old, he received what his family believed to be a golden ticket — a full scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Elite education was André’s way up and out, but at what price? Yes, the exorbitant tuition was covered, but this new world cost him and his family much more than anyone could have anticipated.
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