The Incarcerated Subjects

The Sensitive Issue of Depiction

Unlike most "Behind Bars" Documentary Films, Prayer Call will focus less on the facility: the hallways, bars, doors, practices of chaining and even inmate transfers to focus more on The Prayer Calls and later the established Chapel Religious Activites and "outdoor gatherings."

We intend in our exporation involving the incarcerated to focus on inmates, their belongings which they find useful to freedom objectives [especially legal papers they have accumultated].  We intend to use the representations motion photographically to establish objective-correlatives to show their hopes and depths of strive towards distant opportunities to compare | contrast to the Prayer Calls and free community subjects.

Promo - Prayer Call
Main Prayer Call Promo
Prayer Call: Men and Then Now
Prayer Call Promo
Christian on Prayer Call
Christian Ramos Permission
Victor Terjeras on Release
Victor on Community
Paul on Prayer Call
Paul Washington

Questions for the Practice Footage


What is your name? What religion are you? [I have your permission to film you for the website and for fundraising?]

Where were you the first time you heard "prayer call?"

When were you incarcerated? What was your charge?

When were you released? From where?

What goals do you have which you know you should work for?

What goals have you set for yourself which would fulfill you?

What have you had to give up?

Respond to this word: Sobriety

Respond to this word: Forgiveness

What groups of faith do you receive service from?

Respond to these words: finding inner peace, calm, and joy.

Respond to this word: meditation

Respond to these words: In the here and now

Respond to this word: communion

The Documentary

Each night, often in cycle with any pill call, last cell check, and lights out, many of the men meet for a gathering known simply as "Prayer Call."  A passage or two is read from The Bible and any specific prayers, while many of the men are on trial facing felony level punishment, are offered up by the group to "Father God,"  the name for the Almighty that is acceptable to Jews, Christians and many Muslims inside.  In a place where most physical contact is avoided, the men have a moment of shared intimacy as they hold hands and, as a group, recite The Lord's Prayer.  As a group they raise their hands and share, "Prayers go up, blessings come down."


A "County Lid" is jailhouse slang for the amount of time the County is willing to hold you after trial. Currently, a County Lid is defined as a year. Anyone sentenced to beyond that, after time served, will have to go to a state penitentiary where "No Warning Shots Will Be Fired." The men at the county level are either undergoing trial, or simply waiting to go home. As California is a state with capital punishment, several of the subjects in the film face the death penalty. "Prayer Call" chronicles their journeys as men changed, for the better or for the worse, by their trials and the people with whom they are jailed.

By the time release from The Inmate Reception Center comes, the men are relatively used to being held in a tank, shoulder to shoulder with other men of various ethnicities and offense levels. The wait here is really just the ultimate reminder of where they don't want to go back to as each of the released men gets Immigration Checks, Warrant Checks, and property. One Heavy Slider Door after another opens as they walk forward. Each Slider is that much closer to home.

Eventually these men return to society. Their homecoming is one that can be chronicled as either their last time out or their moment in the sun before going back again. In that moment, does their faith thrive? Are they welcome back in faith based societies that fostered them? Are they able to successfully exist without the pressures and threats of the jail system, or do they need to get into trouble to feel anything is moving? Will the first opportunity send them spiraling back into the patterns and actions that got them jailed in the first place? Do they thrive, or just try to stay alive? Do they just get by?