Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley hosted a sold-out screening of the award-winning documentary Can You Dig This last month, telling attendees that the inspirational film offered ideas for alternative sentencing options in the criminal justice system.
Conley hosted the film in a 200-seat auditorium at the Loews Boston Common theater – one of the largest venues in the country for the independent film, which follows four urban gardeners in South Central Los Angeles who bring splashes of unexpected beauty and a wealth of healthy food to their community.
Members of Conley’s office distributed “seed bombs” to young people from the Teen Center at St. Peter’s, the Lenox Community Center, the CHICA Project, and other local non-profit agencies; the bundled seeds will bloom into sunflowers when Boston’s winter turns to spring.
Also on hand was Indy, the DA’s service dog – and the first such canine companion to be placed with a government agency in Massachusetts. Outside, The Fresh Truck offered fresh, locally-grown produce on their customized school bus.
“Many of you are asking yourselves – why is the District Attorney of Boston hosting a movie about gardening in Los Angeles?” Conley said during opening remarks. “Some of the people in this film have been in trouble with the law. Some are concerned about the health and welfare of their families. Others just want to improve their community and help the people who live there. They all understand it’s not easy to tend a garden. It takes patience. It takes discipline. It takes a lot of hard work. But you create beauty. You nurture and sustain life. You get pride and a sense of accomplishment that your efforts bore fruit – literally.”
In the coming months, Conley said, he would be looking at ways to partner with urban farming groups in Boston “to offer low-level offenders, especially young men and women, a chance to volunteer their time with community gardening programs as an alternative to traditional sentencing.”
Conley is a longtime proponent of specialty treatment courts such as the Drug Court, which diverts drug-addicted offenders to treatment programs with the intention of keeping them clean and sober rather than behind bars. Studies have shown that Drug Court participants are far less likely to reoffend – some 75% remain arrest-free for at least two years after completing the program.
Can You Dig This
was directed by Delila Vallot and released earlier this year, winning the Jury Prize at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival. It was brought to Boston
and can be screened in any city: visit https://gathr.us/films/can-you-dig-this
for more details.