The Sentence explores the devastating consequences of mass incarceration and mandatory minimum drug sentencing through the story of Cindy Shank, a mother of three young children serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison for her tangential involvement in a Michigan drug ring years before. A lyrical, intimate story documented over 10 years by Cindy’s younger brother, filmmaker Rudy Valdez, The Sentence follows Cindy’s struggles to be present in her children’s lives from behind bars and her daughters’ experiences growing up without their mother at home, while her husband, parents and siblings fight for her release before the last months of the Obama administration’s Clemency Project. After winning the 2018 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival The Sentence was acquired by HBO.

Directed by Rudy Valdez   |   Run Time 1 hour 27 minutes

Impact Goal

Odyssey Impact® collaborated with director Rudy Valdez and production company Park Pictures to launch a six-month community engagement and impact campaign for The Sentence in January 2020, with the aim of bringing the film to the experts, stakeholders and families experiencing the wide-ranging impacts of parental incarceration.


Odyssey Impact® coordinated a special screening event with Worth Rises’ and their initiative, Connecting Families, which aimed to eliminate the cost of communication in Connecticut prisons. As part of its efforts, Worth Rises hosted a screening of The Sentence on in partnership with Color of Change and the Working Families Party, at the Connecticut Capitol Building. The screening attendees had the opportunity to participate in petition signing and testimonial sharing in support of the Connecting Families campaign.

Adoption and Safe Families Act Resources

Odyssey Impact® partnered with Movement for Family Power, which developed a one-page resource on the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The ASFA is the law that largely determines how child welfare systems terminate the rights of parents. The resource provides background on how the ASFA contributes to the loss of parental rights for thousands of incarcerated parents.

Resources and Partnerships

Odyssey Impact® partnered with Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), to adapt its HBO Watch Party Toolkit for impact screenings. The toolkit became the basis of the Discussion and Facilitator guide for the campaign.


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