Friday, 13 April 2012

Crime after Crime

This movie is a rather disheartening look at the justice system of America, as it pertains to the case of Debbie Peagler. In Crime after Crime, we get her story, and the story of her lawyers trying to free her while been constrained by the system.

When young, Debbie was captivated by a charismatic man, Oliver, but was soon working for him, suffering abuse and even producing a daughter that was also abused. Using the local gang members, she led Oliver to be killed by them. So, she was definitely involved with his murder.

However, in the trail against her, the DA said she conspired to kill him for the life insurance money. And convinced her to plead guilty so they wouldn't go for the death penalty, which she did. She went to prison for 25 years. That she had been abused didn't come up.

Then about ten years ago a law passed in California that abused women in prison could get their cases re-examined if the abuse was related to the reason they were there. Like in Debbie's case. Which, if it was taken into account, would mean that she should only have been incarcerated for six years. By the time the two people take on her case, she had been in prison for over 20 years.

And what the lawyers find is that the DA knew about the abuse, weren't intending to go for the death penalty anyway, and led the one witness they had against her. And covered up their own actions, and continued to deny her parole (which it seems the justice system does anyway, even despite the other considerations of her case).

The film follows her case for a number of years, culminating in her... to be honest, I'm not sure how much the lawyers really managed to do, versus the fact that by the time of the last hearing she had pneumonia and only had days/months to live. But to spoil it, yes she finally gets out. By this time, we've seen more than a few injustices, and she is only indicative of worse things happening in the system.

So, a bleak film to see, and, in my cynical view, demonstrates typical actions of the political justice system. So, joy there.


No comments: