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Welcome to the ‘Prison Valley’ web doc forums. This is the place where you can discuss prisons, share what you know and have a debate with other Internet users from around the world. And to experience the ‘Prison Valley’ film, click here.




    I grew up in Florence and was excited to find a documentary on the place where I grew up. I have since moved and started my own family, but my parents still live in the area. And *shocker* my dad works for the prison. 5 minutes in and you guys have gotten major details wrong. No one calls it Prison Valley. No one. We call it a lot of names, but never have heard Prison Valley. Also, the Riviera is in Florence. Florence is 11 miles from Canon City. Not 2 blocks away. Looking forward to watching the rest of it. I will update with anything else you got wrong! :)
    Posted by JessiDay
    May 6th 2010
    Good luck, you will be pulling your hair out by the end, all you see are alleys and Florence and lots of wrong information. I mean really could they have tried to make it look any worse???
    The film makers came to the area under totally false misrepresentations. The information contained in this so-called documentary is so far from reality it's almost criminal on their part. The Royal Gorge Region as it's known contains several great communities and is a superior place to live. Sure we have prisons, which by the way puts millions of dollars into our economy every year. We also have the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park serving over a million visitors with one of the highest satisfaction ratings in the Pikes Peak area. We also have the Royal Gorge Route Railroad that is a very family friendly train through the Gorge. Not to mention "Buckskin Joe Frontier Town and Railway". Florence has many great antique shops, Pastry shops and more. Cañon City also has a great Historic downtown as well as one of the best French restaurants in Southern Colorado. Why don't you write about that?

    The film is a great piece of fiction, done is black and white using stop frame video… Why, ?....probably because the film makers could not get people to stand for their misrepresentations while they were in our area. It's very sad that people have to be so twisted in order to get attention.
    This project seems to take all the worst parts of the entire justice system, criminals, and society and blame it all on Canon City. Most of the footage isn't even from Canon City, but Florence - an entirely different town. Even then they took the worst areas, back alleys and the most run down houses, and used those to portray the area. This isn't even close to an accurate representation; there are good restaurants, beautiful homes, and they don't all wear orange to support the prisons. Even the lack of familiarity with the culture shows in the narrator's comments- "...this Lego suddenly takes on a bitter aftertaste". Perhaps you were thinking of Eggo's the waffles instead of Lego's the building blocks? This is an example of sensationalism at it's finest, or should I say worst.
    I am totally disappointed in the "documentary." I am not sure how building towns around prisons is any different than any other industry based communities. It is small town life. But the community is loving and supportive. And it was a great place in which to grow up.

    I guess the only way to get people to talk about the overuse of prisons in the US is to sensationalize and make fun of the people who live in the areas nearby? You just missed the mark. Too bad.
    Awful! Totally inaccurate!!
    This film is a gross misinterpretation of the reality here. The film is exaggerated and includes things that are blatant lies. I am a 26 year long resident of Canon City, and I am happy that way. I am happy that way, not because I am a product of a false sense of reality and security that I was raised with, nor is it because I'm some illiterate hick who is blissfully unaware of a world outside of Canon. These are all reasons that the documentary implies. It is because, I like it here. The people are kind, friendly, and willing to help. We are a community of hard-workers and good people.

    I am offended, insulted, and angered by this film. It's so far off it's laughable.

    I would specifically like to address the woman who comes to Florence (which is a different town than Canon, located more than two blocks away) to visit her husband in the Federal Penn. Her comment was that it was a white collar crime and he didn't kill anybody. My guess is, if he is locked up at the Fed, it somehow involves the IRS. But, white collar crimes are still crimes, punishable by law which I'm sure he was aware of while committing them. She referred to the people here as "trashy" and had a very condescending attitude toward our community. I'm sure it's hard having your husband in prison, so I will extend some grace. However, she has no right to be angry toward our community because she has to make a 10 hour drive to see her convicted husband.
    The condescending ones are the dhs workers who think they are God's gift to the white race, when instead they are just plain white trash! There are some wonderful people in Canon, but unfortuneatley, they do not have a voice. Power corrupts. The GOOD people should be on city council.
    • David Dufresne Prison Valley Team
    • May 8th 2010 (edited May 8th 2010)
    Dear all,

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to contribute to our forums and leaving your testimonies here. For this was what we had in mind for Prison Valley: start a discussion. On behalf of all the team, sincerely, thank you. And i must say we are delighted to see this particular debate has already started here and over on the forums of the Denver Post.

    Let me first make something clear, because we think this might clear some number of misunderstandings: as i hope we made it clear in the film, Prison Valley is NOT about judging any of its inhabitants, on the contrary. But about trying to understand a system. This is what we explain here (you need to be logged to access those links):

    To be honest, we put, in this documentary, a lot of the empathy we feel for the citizens of Cañon City and Florence, and the different people who accepted to be interviewed. They have, on both of our visits in june and september 2009 (and over the 40 days we spent shooting) shown how openminded they were.
    Please understand us: the only thing we are trying to do with this documentary is to understand how a country we love, the United States of America, can incarcerate one out of hundred of its citizens. You'll find more about the reasons that motivates us here :

    @JessiDay: We didn't make up the "nickname" of the town. The term "Prison Valley" was pointed out to us by one of the persons we met here. You will be able to hear her testimony in the film if you watch it until the end. And if there is one issue we disagree with you about, it is because we don't think that "building towns around prisons is any different than any other industry based communities. It is small town life". Prisons are not a trivial industry. It is a matter of point of view and perspectives.

    @Paula13: many scenes of this film have been shot in Florence, that's right. And last we've been there, Florence was indeed the second largest town in Fremont County after Cañon City, right ? So where's the problem?

    @Chamber: you are right, our film is not a sightseeing brochure. That's not what we wanted to talk about. We wanted to talk about the prison system, which is the first local industry. We've even included it in the title of the documentary: "Prison Valley – the prison industry". Nevertheless, and contrary to what you suggest, you'll find many touristic informations here, some even about the Royal George:

    Regarding the "Buckskin Joe Frontier Town and Railway", you'll see we went even further than what you were wishing for: we have made an ensemble of movies, bonuses, archives around the industry of cinema in Cañon City. You'll find we put a lot of heart and efforts in telling this not so well known part of the history of your town:

    Regarding the great Historic Cañon City downtown, we totally agree with you. And we tried to show this in the movie, for instance here:

    @kikiscreamin: regarding the food, we found of the restaurant to serve such an amazing food that we even interviewed its manager. You can see it in the movie:

    And finally, let me reassure you all: when talking about the cells built by other inmates, we have indeed used the term Lego, and would never compare them to the Eggo's waffles.

    Thank you to you all.
    I have an issue with a description of the town. Yes, the town sprung up because of the First Prison in the Territory of Colorado, but there was also mining not long after. And maybe when I was 15 and bored on a friday night I would have agreed with the Cleaner version of Hell. I moved to Canon Cityin 1984 after my father got out of th military. My mother and family was there from the early 70's. I have family who works for the prison system, and family who has been in the prisons in Fremont County. I think your description of the town being "in the middle of no where" and God forsaken shows a level of shallowness
    • Bsteg
    • May 11th 2010 (edited May 11th 2010)
    @Mr. Durfresne,

    Your welcome for all the comments, most residents from Fremont County love their community and we have no problem expressing that.

    No one asked for empathy. Most have chosen to live here, live here surrounded by prisons. We can drive by them every single day and don’t look twice. I think you could have learned about the “system” without making our community look so pitiful. Fremont County is not the reason the USA incarcerates 1 out of 100 citizens….

    Until watching this video I have never heard the name “Prison Valley”. Someone you met in Fremont County, that is not from Fremont County, and that despises Fremont County gave you a name…. Again, No One From Here Call’s it Prison Valley.

    Why shoot the ally? What does the picture of an ally do for the film other than make the town look dirty and unkempt? What about the inaccuracies of the geography? The Rivera Motel is in Florence, not Canon City, and Canon City is 11 miles west of Florence not 2 blocks.

    Honestly, the only way you will ever be able to document the effects of living so close to so many prisons is to live here yourself and see it every day. 40 days isn’t enough to see what you completely missed.
    To all: as we promised, please find our answers to your critics on Prison Valley http://prisonvalley.arte.tv/en/forums/discussion/139/answers-to-comments-posted-by-some-fremont-county-residents-faq/
    Wow, I just watched your amazing documentary "Prison Valley." I have been completely enlightened by this documentary, the information has given me such a new, perception of Canon City. I grew up in Canon City, and always thought it was a pleasant, friendly, and safe place to live... but after watching this documentary, I realize that Canon truly IS a "cleaner version of hell", "a godforsaken place". I will never be able to take my children to see this terrible place where I grew up and where I spent my childhood...Tunnel Drive, Red Canyon Park, Royal Gorge, Temple Canyon, Grape Creek, The most heavily rafted Arkansas River, Phantom Canyon, Shelf Road and the Banks climbing area, The Owl, and Brothers...NEVER will my children be allowed in such a clean version of HELL!!!
    I spent 4 years in Massachusetts state prison, as well as being farmed out to Texas for a year. This seems pretty accurate. It's too bad the white trash locals can't get over the title or realize the point of the movie. The system is flawed, and that entire town only survives of federal funding of prisons. Where else can talentless retards that are not even motivated enough to rob a liquor store find work? The make 40k a year (or more) which is enough to live well in a forgotten town such as "Prison Valley"

    You should embrace "Prison Valley" if they didn't call it that, no one would give a shit about your empty void of nothingness. At least your not Billings, Montana!! hahahah losers.

    After i did 4 years upstate, I got a job in advertising... holy fuck do they pay well... I'm surrounded by beautiful people, get drunk every night, drive my Range Rover around Hollywood and only have prison to thank for it! PLUS! all the lost little sheep in the mid-west have to watch my commercials!

    We used to say that a prison guard (a screw, or a C.O.) to retire in 20 years has to do 10 years in Prison... hahahaha schmuck
    • nell
    • Mar 13th 2011
    I grew up here in canon city and in thirty years I have never heard the term "prison valley". I even moved back here to raise my family. It is one of the safest and friendliest places in colorado. Also does any one realize what it costs to house a single inmate for a year? Prisoners recieve room, board, medical, and dental care. In truth I couldn't care less about the happyness of prisoners; You don't go to prison for because you're a nice person. P.S. Also when the hell did the filmakers gather so much footage of rain? It only rains here about once every three months. Usually it's sunny and pleasant, even in the fall and early winter. The blossom festival is inspired by the many fruit orchards in the area, and in followed by apple day in penrose, co. in september.

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