“Crime After Crime” takes a powerful and riveting look at the human condition through the eyes of Debbie Peagler, a young woman fighting for her freedom. After being incarcerated under peculiar circumstances, a team of volunteer attorneys re-evaluates her case as they work to set her free.
A battered woman prostituted by her own husband, Debbie is the true portrait of a survivor. Having landed in jail due to a series of unfortunate events, her struggle to be released from prison is an uphill battle faced with myriad institutional obstacles — this despite a laundry list of evidence that clearly exonerates her.
“Crime After Crime” is an eye-opening examination of the justice system in the same vein as “Paradise Lost.” The film addresses a slew of key issues with a fairly unbiased perspective. Who, exactly, is the court system set up to protect, the people in charge or the people behind bars? Why are second-chance opportunities few and far between, even for wrongly convicted prisoners? It’s a politically smart documentary, but most of all, it’s intuitively simple as well.
Many times, socio-conscious messages can be lost amid a steam of convoluted theories, especially when it comes to the business of the justice system. “Crime After Crime” thoroughly addresses the ins and outs of Debbie’s case without at all pandering to the audience. There is little to no sensationalism added for effect, either. Debbie’s life story in and of itself is compelling enough to carry the brunt of the documentary. Add into the mix a rookie attorney duo consisting of Joshua Safran and Nadia Costa, who volunteer to take on the case out of the sheer goodness of their hearts, and you have an extremely powerful combination of elements.
“Crime After Crime” is a true testament to the kindness of strangers. Despite putting everything on the line, including their own careers, Joshua and Nadia tirelessly pursue justice for Debbie, a process that ends up taking years. The documentary follows their progress little by little as the duo becomes closely bonded with the inmate. Their connection is so pure and raw that the energy in the room is almost potent when the three are united.
Through it all, whether or not you, as a viewer, are persuaded of Debbie’s innocence is basically irrelevant, for Debbie’s compassion and endless determination is the real driving factor in the film. She is a victim of terrible circumstances, but most of all, she’s a survivor. “Crime After Crime” will leave you with a renewed perception of the human psyche. Better yet, it’s an activist film with a message. It’s important that stories like Debbie’s not go unheard because she is not the first to be in her position and, unfortunately, she will not be the last.