Benevolence: A Journey from Prison to Home

Benevolence follows the journey of five women who leave prison and move onto a working farm in North Carolina.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
62 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Benevolence, a Journey from Prison to Home follows the journey of five women as they are
released from prison and move onto Benevolence Farm in Alamance County, NC. After the stress of prison life, five women find themselves nurtured and supported in a calm, agricultural sanctuary when they move to Benevolence Farm, a transitional house on a working farm in North Carolina carefully designed to help formerly incarcerated women get back on their feet. Through intimate verite filming, we follow these women on their difficult journey to renewed independence, confidence and self-worth as they learn what it means to live life on the outside. This documentary film is an important educational tool for engaging with contemporary issues related to women and criminal justice reform. It promotes instructive discussions about how gender affects incarceration and reentry and reveals what women face as they move from prison back into society.

Featured review

"Benevolence is a thoughtful and inspiring portrait of an important transitional program for women who are leaving prison. The film is an important contribution to discussions we need to have about the correctional system in the US with its record incarceration rates that have affected women disproportionately in the last two decades. The film is also a feminist statement as it creates space for unheard voices and an innovative program that hopefully finds multiplication."
Daniela Jauk, PhD, Feminist Sociologist and Research Specialist at Oriana House, Inc.


Benevolence Farm is a unique organization in Alamance county, North Carolina, which sees its mission as providing an opportunity for women leaving prison to live and work on a farm where they grow food, nourish self, and foster community. The concrete goal is to establish stable housing and gainful employment for women returning from prison through this innovative social-enterprise based program and to inspire the creation of similar reentry programs in other locations. Benevolence tells the stories of the first group of women chosen to live at the farm -- from exiting the prison gates to settling into life on the Farm and rebuilding their lives. The film gives voice to a community whose voices are rarely heard: those of formerly incarcerated women.
Like most women coming out of prison, the women entering Benevolence Farm have no homes to return to or, if they do, the homes are often located in troubled communities where they may fall back into the activities that landed them in prison in the first place. Transitional housing capacity is lacking in most states, including North Carolina and when available, offer little more than a bed and meals. Will these women find camaraderie with one another? Will they collaborate, learn from each other’s successes and failures, share their challenges openly and seek support and strength from the group? Or will the strain of such a big life shift from prison to farm result in programmatic failure as individuals drop out and conflicts arise between remaining participants? The film pays attention to the small details of the women’s daily lives on the farm and to their stories of their experiences.
This documentary film is an important educational tool for engaging with contemporary issues related to women and criminal justice reform. It promotes instructive discussions about how gender affects incarceration and reentry and reveals what women face as they move from prison back into society.


Watching Benevolence showed how difficult the transition process for formerly incarcerated women has been while at the same time showing the humanity of a population that is so often overlooked. I am glad that the film shows diverse perspectives on a problem that effects so many. What Benevolence did not show was a group of down-trodden women with criminal pasts. It showed strong, humble, human women who had to learn to live a different life under the most taxing of circumstances in an environment that allows them to take pride in their contributions.

The film also calls into question the limited resources available to women specifically, after being released from prison. I was able to show this film to my Justice Studies students. The common consensus was that the film was engaging, timely and necessary. The film proved to be a great addition to our course discussions on women and prison/reentry. I have also recommended, that once available, our department has it on-hand for many discussions around women and criminal justice.
Rolanda JW Spencer, EdD, Author of Reexamining Reentry: The Policies, People, and Programs of the United States Prisoner Reintegration Systems
Benevolence is a film that offers the audience a rare and genuine glimpse at the immediate obstacles women face directly after leaving prison. Through the interviews highlighted in the film, not only are the personal concerns and struggles of the farm residents expressed, but a gender-specific examination of reentry issues of formerly incarcerated women.
This film also allows for an opportunity for consideration and reflection upon the concept of second chances. A pressing issue facing women presented in this film is the invisible sentence of carrying the stigma of having been incarcerated, and the misconceptions the public has of formerly incarcerated people. The film demonstrates, in a non-judgmental way, the general public’s misunderstanding who may be incarcerated, and of the issues that often create the pathway to women’s imprisonment. The will many women have to overcome their problems and mistakes as to return to society as a productive and contributing member is also a focal point in need of recognition.

Dr. Lisa Carter, Chair and Associate Professor of Criminology, Florida Southern College

Awards and Screenings

Doc Without Borders Film Festival
(In)Justice Film Festival
Longleaf Film Festival

Director Commentary

There are now 200,000 women in prison or jail in the United States, a figure that represents an increase of over 750% in the last three decades, and nearly twice the rate of increase that men experienced. This includes women in state and federal prisons and also women in jail because they can’t afford money bail. They are held even though they haven’t been convicted yet. Important to remember that when we’re talking about formerly incarcerated women reentering their community, we’re talking about women who have served their time and paid their debt to society. Women share with men some of the barriers to successful reentry: difficulty in finding housing, work; the need to find support to deal with substance abuse issues as well as histories of physical and sexual abuse. Many women also have children who were being cared for by family or were in the foster system. I think the most recent statistic is that about 60% of justice-involved women are mothers.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Resources for Educators

Film/Audio Languages

  • English

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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