S.O.B.E.R. – DWI Courts and the Transformation From Addiction To Recovery shines a spotlight on a few important issues. Most people intimately acquainted with mental illness know it often goes hand in hand with substance abuse–addiction being recognized as its own psychological disorder.
Over 1.5 million people are arrested every year in the United States of America for DWI offenses. S.O.B.E.R. DWI Courts and the Transformation from Addiction to Recovery is a film that chronicles how one court decided to take a different approach to the problem.
The film’s narrative mostly focuses on Issouf Simpore, an immigrant and artist who lost both of his parents and took to alcohol to cope with his feelings. The film shows that drunk drivers are not just strangers without a name, they can be our friends and neighbors. It also tackles a tricky issue in criminal justice; that of treating the underlying root of an addiction problem leading to full recovery and less recidivism than incarceration.
Says Justin Jarrett of his documentary:
“Responsibility.org’s mission has always been personal to me. Early on in my life, I lost my best friend to a DWI and that has shaped many of my choices and decisions as a filmmaker in my career. So when producers from Responsibility.org approached me about directing this project, I was intrigued at having the opportunity to sit down and talk to someone on the other side of a DWI and try to gain an understanding about how they got to that point in their life. I was also excited by the fact that SOBER Court (which I had never even heard of at the time) offered an alternate solution that, to me, worked on fixing the root of the problem.
From the moment that I met Issouf, I knew he wanted to make a change in his life. Before I had ever sat down and talked to him about what led him to this point – his struggles with substance abuse, feelings of being alone as an immigrant, the pressures of being a new parent and the loss of his own, I knew that he was grateful for the opportunity to turn it all around. I could tell that he was ready just by the way he carried himself and how excited he was to graduate from SOBER Court.
I think too often, we see someone commit a crime and we immediately jump to the punishment for that crime, but we fail to step back and look at how we can help this person. Do we as a society have the ability to honestly help this person get their life back on track? Do we make those tools readily available to them, or do we simply lock them up and throw away the key hoping the problem simply solves itself? My hope was that as filmmakers we could open the door to society beginning to look at Issouf as a human being that needs our help rather than a statistic that happens to be a human being. Then, hopefully, if we are lucky maybe his story could help someone else and so on and so forth. Eventually, changing the conversation and beginning to reduce the problem that is recidivism.”
S.O.B.E.R. – DWI Courts and the Transformation From Addiction To Recovery is now streaming in Shorts Block No. 2.