Crime After Crime (film)

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Crime After Crime
Debbie-Peagler-behind-glass small.jpg
Deborah Peagler, the principle subject of the film. This photo was taken in 2008 at the Central California Women's Facility, the largest women's prison in the USA. Photo by Yoav Potash, courtesy of the documentary film Crime After Crime.
Directed by Yoav Potash
Starring Deborah Peagler
Joshua Safran
Nadia Costa
Release dates
  • July 1, 2011 (2011-07-01) (USA)
Country United States
Box office $58,840 (USA)

Crime After Crime (2011) is a documentary film directed by Yoav Potash about the case of Deborah Peagler, an incarcerated victim of domestic violence whose case was taken up by pro bono attorneys through The California Habeas Project.

Production and critical reception[edit]

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011, and has since earned 25 major awards[1] including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, The National Board of Review’s Freedom of Expression Award, and The Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism. The film was a New York Times Critics' Pick.

Potash produced Crime After Crime over a five and a half year span, an experience he wrote about for The Wall Street Journal.[2]

The Los Angeles Times listed the documentary as "a must-see film"[3] and The Hollywood Reporter described the film as "a tremendously moving story, strong in social commitment and deftly woven out of years of footage." The Salt Lake Tribune called the film "a riveting examination of justice denied through political manipulation and prosecutorial callousness."[4] Among the first honors bestowed upon the film were the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media, presented by the Council on Foundations, and the Pursuit of Justice Award, presented by the California Women's Law Center.

The film was funded by the Sundance Documentary Fund, the San Francisco Foundation, the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film at the Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Pacific Pioneer Fund, the Bay Area Video Coalition, the Women in Film Foundation Film Finishing Fund supported by Netflix, the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay, and Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco.

In May 2011, the film won the Golden Gate Award for Documentary Feature at the 54th annual San Francisco International Film Festival.[5]

The film was picked up by the Oprah Winfrey Network for broadcast and home video distribution.[6]


Crime After Crime tells the dramatic story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. She was wrongly convicted of the murder of her abusive boyfriend, and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Her story takes an unexpected turn two decades later when two rookie land-use attorneys step forward to take her case. Through their perseverance, they bring to light long-lost witnesses, new testimonies from the men who committed the murder, and proof of perjured evidence. Their investigation ultimately attracts global attention to victims of wrongful incarceration and abuse, and becomes a matter of life and death once more.


  • Audience Award, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
  • Audience Award, Berkshire International Film Festival
  • Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival
  • Audience Award, Rochester Jewish Film Festival
  • Audience Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Audience Award (fiction or documentary), Spokane International Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Berkshire International Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Spokane International Film Festival
  • Best Editing, Milan International Film Festival
  • Crystal Heart Award, Heartland Film Festival
  • Documentary Grand Prize, Heartland Film Festival
  • Freedom of Expression Award, National Board of Review
  • Gold SpIFFy for Best Documentary, Spokane International Film Festival
  • Golden Gate Award for Investigative Documentary Feature, San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Grand Prize, San Antonio Film Festival
  • Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media, Council on Foundations Film Festival
  • Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism, The Sydney Hillman Foundation
  • Jury Award, Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
  • Justice Matters Jury Prize, Washington DC International Film Festival
  • Prevention for a Safer Society Award, National Council on Crime and Delinquency
  • Pursuit of Justice Award, California Women's Law Center
  • Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights
  • Whitehead Award, Whitehead Film Festival


External links[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Sin by Silence, an award-winning documentary about the first inmate-led battered women's support group in U.S. prison history
  • Defending Our Lives, a short documentary