Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services

Documenting stories of hardship, perseverance, and achievement through video storytelling reminds us of the power of creativity to bring meaning to lived experiences. This was certainly true for our work with Project HOPE.

The Challenge

Project HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Evolve) is a partnership between several local organizations, including Fresh Start Ministries, the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, the Cedar Rapids Public Library, and Kirkwood Community College. The initiative aims to amplify marginalized voices and emphasize the value of a human-centered approach to community corrections—an approach the Sixth Judicial District prides itself on practicing daily.

The partnering organizations needed a way to show the transformational nature of their work while conveying its impact in a manner that was personal, compelling, and most importantly, human. They also wanted to promote a better understanding of the supervision process of probation and parole, and how quality connections between clients and staff lead to positive outcomes.

Our Approach

We partnered with the organizations, as well as local storyteller Bailey Chichon, to develop, film, and produce two videos highlighting the success and growth of Patrick Roland-Bey and Scotty Boyce after their respective journeys through the justice system.

By conducting interviews with Patrick and Scotty, their parole officers, and their mentors, we were able to widen the perspective and illustrate a comprehensive picture of their experience and evolution through the justice system.

Eric Lehman | parole officer

Keeping the human aspect in focus, we intentionally collected and included tighter shots during filming and production to reveal facial expressions and emotions, offering an intimate look at Patrick, Scotty, and the people who became influential in their lives.

The videos create a biographical structure, offering a full picture of Patrick and Scotty as people with backstories, lived experiences, obstacles, and victories. Both videos have a cinematic tone and feel, leveraging story arcs and visual cues to establish environment, create tension, build suspense, and provide resolution.

The Work

Patrick and Scotty’s stories demonstrate the success of the Sixth Judicial District’s human-centered approach to community corrections, as well as provide a deeper understanding of its potential to create lasting change.

The Results

The finished Project HOPE videos provided the Sixth Judicial District with a tangible way to show their philosophy, process, and positive impact on people. The videos also gave voice to formerly incarcerated individuals by humanizing their stories, challenging misconceptions, and promoting acceptance.

Initiative members have put the videos to good use, serving as a helpful resource during presentations and conversations to spread awareness and offer insight.

We were honored that one of the videos (Patrick’s Story) was recognized by the Hermes Creative Awards with a platinum award, the organization’s highest honor.

Both videos underscore the fact that our pasts don’t define us; how we respond and move forward does. Showcasing that spirit of human resilience through video storytelling is a beautiful thing.