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The Independent Critic

Jack Hall, Marilyn Sales, Iowa State Penitentiary Hospice Program
Edgar Barens
48 Mins.
HBO Documentary Films

 "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" Nominated for Oscar 
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A deeply moving short film playing the 2014 Heartland Film Festival Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Jack Hall was also one of the 2014 Oscar nominees for Best Documentary - Short Subject.

Directed by Edgar Barens, the film tells the story of PFC Jack Hall, a World War II veteran who picked up awards for his service during the African and European campaigns but who also came home having difficulty controlling that urge to kill that had grown through his years of service. To control the urge, he drank. Heavily.

Then, Jack had a drug-addicted son commit suicide and Jack overheard his dealer bragging.

Suddenly, the urge couldn't be contained anymore. Jack killed the dealer and ended up in Iowa State Penitentiary with a life sentence for murder.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Jack Hall is not about Jack's war time and it's not even about the events that led up to his murder conviction, a conviction that largely resulted from his being turned in by another son whom he'd told everything while in a drunken stupor.

Prison Terminal is about Jack's last days, an 82-year-old man still behind the bars of Iowa State Penitentiary offered his dignity and the ability to not die alone through an extraordinary hospice program within the prison's walls paid for by volunteers and donors and run by Marilyn Sales, who directs the program with an almost angelic compassion determined that those who walk in with ink on their fingers will not leave that way. The hospice program's orderlies are prisoners themselves, men convicted of everything from murder to kidnapping and beyond and men who are now finding a way to become the men no one ever thought they could be.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Jack Hall is an inspiring and deeply moving film, a film that left me in tears more than once at the dignity offered a man whose story was far beyond the crime he had committed and at the tenderness offered by the orderlies who nurtured Jack, bathed him, and stayed with him until his dying breath.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic