Crime after Crime
Not to be confused with the Cyndi Lauper hit “Time After Time”, Crime After Crime by Yoav Potash is one of the most straightforward documentations of the criminal justice system that I’ve seen. By delving into the powerful narrative of one incarcerated survivor of domestic violence, as well interviewing her and the perpetrator’s family, Potash evokes your emotional response while providing evidence that shows the “depth of corruption and politically driven resistance” in getting just one person out of prison.
The documentary follows Debbie, who in 1983 was charged with 1st degree murder and threatened with the death penalty for defending herself from her abusive husband. After nearly 27 years in prison and 4 parole hearings with the support of 2 pro-bono lawyers, Debbie is finally released. One important thing to note with this somewhat happy ending, however, is that even with 2 lawyers working tirelessly on her case, it still took a long journey to get that success story.
“We have 120,000 women behind bars in the US and over 80% are survivors of domestic violence, rape and other forms of abuse.” You can’t help but feel overwhelmed by how many lawyers would need to supply years of free services to create that same happy ending for every woman prisoner.
On the bright side, California is the only state allowing cases to be re-opened, but the state is still not providing women with attorneys. This brings to attention my appreciation for the pivotal work that organizations like Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) and California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) do to provide women prisoners with the support they need to leave prison or stay sane while inside; and work that Ella Baker Center’s Books Not Bars campaign does to fight for the youth being tried as adults by the Division of Juvenile Justice and organize the largest state-wide network of families of incarcerated youth.
With most documentaries, I usually feel so debilitated after watching that I don’t know what to do. However, Crime After Crime showed me that a simple gesture of love and compassion goes a long way for a prisoner. Debbie explains that the letters she got was all that she had to live for. With that, I have made a resolution to start responding more consistently to the prison letters that come to the Ella Baker Center.
I ask you to make a resolution that works for you. Some ideas are:
- Watch this movie. If you need a copy, go to this link and ask how you can get a copy.
- If you or someone you know has a loved one in prison or works in the criminal justice field, write to them, send them a picture, remind them they’re being thought of.
- If you don’t know anyone, I would invite you to get in touch with Books Not Bars, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and/or California Coalition for Women Prisoners and see how you can help.