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Since I Been Down

This film is no longer available

About the film

In 1993, Washington State voters passed the three-strikes law and sent children to prison for life without parole. We feared these children as irredeemable superpredators. Our fear was wrong, but in 2020, sixteen states continue to keep children in prison for life. "Since I Been Down" shows the power of these children, now adults nearly forty years later, creating a true path to justice and healing from inside their prison walls.




1h 45m




Gilda Sheppard


Gilda Sheppard

Awards & recognition

2020 Social Justice Film Festival

Feature Documentary Gold Prize


Audience Favorite Winner


Top Vote Getter Winner

Tacoma Film Festival

2020 Official Selection

Cleveland International Film Festival

Official Selection

Toronto Black Film Festival

2021 Official Selection

What people are saying

It is troubling that we have a demographic of people in our society who are socialized to believe prison and death are normal, and that living beyond the age of 21, or 25 is a goal. The film, “Since I Been Down” depicts that justice is not the same as the justice system, which is broken by the influence of race. The Black Prisoner’s Caucus, highlighted in the film, is a model for our entire country…its mission to “create a better version of who we are” needs to be the mission of our country. ​In this time of heightened awareness of racism in policing, “Since I Been Down” delivers an honest statement that should compel all of us to respond.

Susan Lockwood Robert, Ed.D., CEO, Correctional Education Association

Gilda Sheppard’s Since I Been Down is a beautifully moving film that humanizes - in all its complexity - a group the culture has relegated to the margins of empathy and understanding. Showing how the real people entrapped in inhumane structures struggle for dignity and meaning, it offers a powerful rebuttal to the racist tropes that have allowed the system of mass incarceration to remain intact in the face of overwhelming evidence of its brutality and ineffectiveness. A wonderful and skillful piece of filmmaking that deserves to be widely seen and discussed.

Sut Jhally, Professor Emeritus University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Executive Director, Media Education Foundation

Director Gilda Shepard is a gifted teacher, incisive scholar, committed activist, and a talented filmmaker who's dedicated her life to the education and liberation of poor and oppressed people -- especially black people in the era of mass incarceration. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for her brilliant work and steadfast commitment to justice.

Michelle Alexander, Civil Rights Attorney; Author “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

A powerful illustration unveiling the criminal justice system’s punitive excess. As a career prosecutor, I believe we must redefine justice to include community justice principles where punishment is no longer the sole response to crime. The time is now for criminal justice reparations. We must build trust, restore lives, and repair the harm done to communities of color.

Dan Satterberg, ​King Country (WA) Prosecutor

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