‘Crime After Crime’: An Inspiring Tale of Abuse, Injustice and a Fight for Freedom
Amidst the stark landscape of Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, we find an unforgettable tale of a battered woman trapped inside the cemented walls of an unscrupulous justice system. At the core of Potash’s film is the shocking statistic that 80% of incarcerated women in America are survivors of some form of domestic violence, rape or abuse.
Potash uses facts and footage to break the battered women issue wide open, putting the spotlight on a luminous protagonist and a colourful cast of characters who work tirelessly to release her from the grip of an unlawful imprisonment. Emotionally affecting, the film reminds us of the power of art to critique the system, inspire hope and facilitate change.
During the filming, Potash’s work inspired a grassroots movement that advocated not only for Deborah’s freedom, but also for victims of wrongful incarceration and domestic abuse across America. To help publicize, organize, and channel that movement, Potash oversaw the establishment of a website, freedebbie.org, used footage to gain the attention of the media and founded a social justice campaign, Free From Abuse.
By the time of its release in 2011, only California had a law that allowed incarcerated survivors of abuse to petition the courts for their freedom. According to Free From Abuse, currently legislators and organizers in six states (Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Texas) have passed or are working to pass similar legislation. In New Jersey, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg saw the film and responded within weeks by introducing a new legislation called the New Jersey Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (also known as Debbie’s Law).