MISSOULA – Nine students from the University of Montana School of Journalism will hold a premiere of their documentary film “Montana Jails Slammed for Solutions” at 5 p.m. Friday, May 11, in the University Center Theater.

           The showing is free and open to the public. The documentary will broadcast statewide at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17, on MontanaPBS.

Many of the state’s 36 jails are overcrowded, and according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, 90 percent of individuals held in Montana jails are charged with an addiction-related offense. The show takes a closer look at how the state is trying to break the pattern of addiction and jail time.

A mother with multiple DUIs is serving her time in a lockdown treatment facility in Glendive. But other counties take a different approach. A man is serving time for his second DUI with a variety of community service projects in Lake County. A repeat offender out of Lewis and Clark County is sitting in jail, but hopes to get into treatment court. These alternative programs can alleviate jail overcrowding, but how effective are they in breaking the pattern of reoffending?

The journalism students who produced the documentary are:

  • Maria Anderson, producer, from Kent, Washington
  • Tiffany Folkes, director, from Duvall, Washington
  • Matt Skillman from Ennis
  • Sophie Trouw from Fairfax, California
  • Meri DeMarois from Missoula
  • Joseph Perea from Eureka 
  • Posie Buffington from Wayzata, Minnesota
  • Natasha Woodworth from Columbia Falls
  • Julie Beanes-Magnuson from Los Angeles.