SAN DIEGO, October 28, 2011 – Every television set in America needs to be tuned into the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Thursday night, November 3, at 9 p.m. The program you watch will be the most emotional and affecting two hours you spend watching television all week, all month, and perhaps all year. It will change lives, maybe your own.
“Crime After Crime” by award-winning documentary filmmaker Yoav Potash is the unforgettable, unimaginable story of Debbie Peagler, a woman incarcerated for more than 25 years after the 1983 murder of the man who viciously abused her. Her hope for justice rests on two naïve attorneys, Joshua Safran and Nadia Costa, who have no experience in criminal law but who agree to fight for her. Their more than six-year saga is riveting, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting. The film made its debut at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has received unanimous rave reviews.
Peagler represents the shocking number of women in this nation’s prisons who are survivors of domestic violence including rape, incest, forced prostitution, assault, and other types of physical and mental abuse. Often the abuse causes a downward spiral that leads to criminal acts women are forced into by their abuser. In extreme cases, the women are desperate enough to end the abuse by killing their abuser as the only alternative when the police and the courts don’t protect them.
In 2003, California became the first state in the nation to give incarcerated domestic violence survivors the chance to reopen their cases and present evidence of their abuse as mitigation in their defense. Peagler’s case was deemed worthy of seeking this redress. Safran and Costa’s fateful decision to represent Peagler launches a dramatic journey in which unlikely individuals became a family united behind a cause that changed their lives, and the lives of everyone they have touched.
Filmmaker Potash met attorney Safran when he began attending law school at the University of California, Berkeley. They became friends, and Potash became fascinated by Safran’s description of the case.
“I agreed to meet Debbie. The moment I did, I was hooked. She had been through hell, and yet was an uplifting, inspiring person,” recalls Potash. He began filming the story, which continued in and out of prison for over five years, becoming the documentary “Crime After Crime.”
Safran says Peagler was randomly assigned to him and Costa. “Debbie was a super amazing person… We were surprised at how normal she was. If we met her in the community, we would want to be friends with her.”
“Crime After Crime” inspired the creation of Debbie’s Campaign, a national non-profit project aimed at bringing public attention and real change to the issues documented in the film. Potash, Safran, Costa, and Peagler’s family are working to ensure Debbie’s Campaign fulfills Deborah Peagler’s vision that her story be told in order to help others and to push for improvements in domestic violence law.
The filmmaker, attorneys and family members have held screenings in cities across the United States to call attention to their cause, including one in San Diego October 27 to benefit Project SARAH, a domestic violence support program run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego.
It was a privilege for me to sponsor of this extraordinary event that left every member of the audience drained, but determined more than ever to educate people about the pervasiveness of domestic violence, to support programs for victims, and to change domestic violence laws.
California remains the only state that provides a way for women to fight wrongful incarceration due to domestic violence. Several other states are now considering similar legislation following the airing of “Crime After Crime,” including New York. Free public screening of the documentary will take place in early November as legislators are scheduled to discuss this matter.
“Crime After Crime” will shock you, outrage you, upset you, and anger you. It will also uplift you, strengthen you, move you, and inspire you.
“Debbie is going to have an amazing legacy in this world,” says Joshua Potash.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra.
Copyright © 2014 by Fleischer & Ravreby, Attorneys at Law