The title of Christopher Booker's heart-rending short documentary The C Number refers to the official penitentiary classification for a group of unfortunate Illinois prisoners, sentenced to confinement before more merciful regulations (and more easily obtained parole) kicked in. An older and more draconian method of sentencing lingers for these individuals; though officially granted regular parole hearings, they are -- to put it mildly -- slim candidates for a sentence break. At the center of the film is Theodore Bacino -- a 71-year-old inmate who murdered a policeman in 1982 and has issued a heartfelt appeal for parole to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, each and every year of his sentence -- to no avail. Now, with an immaculate prison record under his arm -- and a wife of 45 years on the outside who longs to see him -- Bacino hopes and prays that his next meeting with the parole board will be his last. The film sounds a cry of protest against a system perfectly willing to project flexibility and leniency to new prisoners, but defiantly unwilling to rescind or reconsider its old rules for veterans of incarceration.
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