Project: N.O. Justice
Main Image: N.O. Justice
Chris Tetens and Lauren Thompson are producing the feature-length documentary N.O. Justice, about the failures of the New Orleans criminal justice system and the efforts of a few individuals determined to change it.
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Chris Tetens
Lauren Thompson

We must feel a kinship with our countrymen. Not take care of them, not help them, but include them. And from that word falls all manner of action that could lead to solution.

—Dan Baum, journalist

America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation. Louisiana locks up more people per capita than any state in America. And New Orleans surpasses every city in the state, claiming the highest incarceration rate in the world. Ninety percent of the individuals in Louisiana prisons are doing time for drug-related crimes. But are drugs really the problem?

N.O. Justice is the story of five individuals from New Orleans—a recovering addict, a street-level hustler, an ex-con on a mission, a convicted drug trafficker, and a first-time felon—all up against impossible odds, but each on a quest to reclaim his or her life.

By following them through their daily struggles and experiencing firsthand their victories and pitfalls, Tetens and Thompson explore what causes the cycle of drugs, addiction, crime, and incarceration swallowing up the communities of New Orleans. They also question the underlying causes and systemic policies contributing to this American epidemic. What's feeding this national fever? Is it the result of decades of racial exclusion and economic injustice? Are we content with our current course and the shape of our communities? Can we do better?

Enhanced by insights from criminal justice experts on the front lines of the debate, Tetens and Thompson's unfiltered storytelling style enables the audience to see past the lens and discover a shared human experience.