By Shaynah Ferreira 2/23/2017

President Obama said this in a 2016 speech: “The United States is home to 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoners.”

 It’s this statistic that served as a catalyst for Netflix’s Original Documentary, 13th.

The explosive Netflix documentary, 13th explores the multiple layers of the criminal justice system and the deeply racialized system of Mass Incarceration in the United States.

 Spencer Averick served as the producer, editor and writer of the Oscar-nominated documentary.

 “It was difficult to tell this story because first we started off with mass incarceration and then we realized we couldn’t tell the story of mass incarceration without going back in time just after the emancipation” said Averick.

 The documentary touches on the importance of the 13th Amendment. Averick explained to WEBN-TV why 13th was the fitting name of this Oscar-nominated documentary: “The 13th Amendment freed slaves but there was a loophole that said if you’re convicted of a crime, basically, you’re not free . . . this amendment has evolved and mutated with implications evident today.”

 13th brings viewers through 150 years of history from Emancipation, to Jim Crow and Segregation, The Civil Rights Movement and the administrations of Regan, Nixon and Clinton. Each era served as a building block for the issue of mass incarceration today.

 Averick says though he was the producer for this documentary, it was humbling and he walked away with so much more than he anticipated, “when we saw the reaction from people on social media and people started to thank us, suggest this movie to other people and demand this film be mandatory in schools .. . . it was way bigger than what we thought was going to happen”.

 Averick hopes audiences will resist complacency after watching this documentary and become more informed of the country’s deeply rooted issues regarding race and the criminal justice system. 

This nomination is Averick’s first Oscar-nomination.


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