‘Middlemen,’ observes the human impact of the criminal justice system in neighborhoods of color and discusses if new age policing systems like Compstat, revered for driving down crime instead are driving discrimination and begs the question, are communities safer because of these changes?

Michael Bell, Baron Marquis, Matthew Fogg, and Daniel Model served on the police force, each in different positions, open up on camera about regularly feeling at odds with right and wrong while trying to meet the demands of upper management. For those who are of color, this demand translates into even deeper controversy, corresponding directly to the lack of diversity in key decision-making positions.

Fast forward to present day, over 59[1] percent of police departments across the country have adopted Compstat, moving away from Community Policing. Over 2.3[2] million people are incarcerated at any given point in the United States. The trade-off for ‘better policing’ came with an inherently unfair human cost that targeted marginalized communities of color. Court systems also moved toward a manner where convictions or dismissal for misdemeanor offenses are not based on guilt and innocence but rather record keeping, social control, and discrimination.  Issa Kohler-Hausmann calls this Managerial Justice which is “concerned with managing people through engagement with the criminal justice system over time.” [3]

Documented verite stories include Mohamed Bah’s mother, Hawa Bah, Amadou Diallo’s mother, Kadiatou Diallo, and Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, who frequently unite to support one another’s pursuit for criminal justice reform and to protect the legacy of their deceased children. William Bell, Sean Bell’s father, and Nicholas Heyward Jr.’s father, Heyward senior, also share their stories about their children’s untimely deaths and the criminal justice system. Their stories inspire unity, courage, and examples of how to approach injustice.

Additionally, multiple stories falling under the umbrella of structural racism are shared by the public and the formerly incarcerated. These stories illustrate how the revolving prison door disrupts communities and creates a “prison pipeline” in which children in minority communities are targeted from a young age and treated like criminals.

Criticism and conversation overflow about the Criminal Justice System and questions Compstat’s validity and lawfulness with additional interviews with professors, advocates, politicians, and lawyers. Some resolutions offered emphasis education, more dynamic training for police officers, more diversity in upper management, and three calls to action that the public can pursue to help with reform. These calls to action include petitioning for the word ‘performance’ to be defined as a ‘quota’ in legislation that does NOT permit quota-driven policing. Demanding police departments invested in Private Prisons immediately DIVEST from them, and lastly that Compstat meetings be open to rank and file officers and community board representatives to play an active role in the CO-PRODUCTION of public safety.

‘Middlemen’ weaves together these stories to push forward against overwhelming challenges in the Criminal Justice System. Middlemen is an interview-intensive story with animation, narration, graphics, b roll, and verite.


[1] Neusteter, Rebecca. Vera Institute of Justice “Compstat 2.0”  https://www.vera.org/projects/compstat-2-0

[2] Wagner, Peter and Rabuy, Bernadette. Prison Police Initiative, “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html

[3] Kohler-Hausmann. Issa, Stanford Law Review Volume 66, Issue 3. Pg 611 https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/print/article/managerial-justice-and-mass-misdemeanors/ 2014 March