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Two Strikes & Tutwiler: Inside the U.S. Criminal Justice System (full documentaries)

06 Sep 2023
In collaboration with The Marshall Project, a two-part documentary special explores a “two-strikes” law in Florida, and the experience of being pregnant in prison in Alabama.

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“Two Strikes,” a film produced as part of FRONTLINE’s fellowship with Firelight Media, tells the story of how Mark Jones, a former West Point cadet struggling with PTSD and alcoholism, got life in prison in Florida after an attempted carjacking — a sentence that even the victim viewed as too harsh.

Through the lens of Jones’ case, the documentary explores how statutes like Florida’s so-called “two-strikes” law, more formally called the Prison Releasee Reoffender law, can result in people getting mandatory maximum sentences, including life in prison, for crimes in which no one is injured. While Florida’s statute is among the strictest, many states have laws that increase prison time for repeat offenses.

Then: What is it like to give birth — and be forced to say goodbye to your baby 24 hours later? FRONTLINE and The Marshall Project go inside Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in the documentary “Tutwiler,” an unforgettable window into the lives of incarcerated pregnant women. Many of these women are survivors of domestic violence or have struggled with substance abuse disorders. Working with a group of doulas, they attend parenting classes, dream up names for their babies, and plan for how they’ll maintain their sobriety once they’ve served their time.

But nothing can fully prepare them for what’s to come. As one incarcerated woman says, “When you were locked up your whole pregnancy and it was just you and that baby, and then to walk away from the person that’s been there with you, it makes the strongest person break.”

“Two Strikes” is a FRONTLINE Production with Noncompliant Films in association with Firelight Media & The Marshall Project. The director and producer is Ursula Liang. The producer is Tessa Travis. The co-producer & reporter is Cary Aspinwall of The Marshall Project. Edited by Eugene Yi. “Tutwiler” is a Requisite Media film for FRONTLINE and The Marshall Project in association with WORLD’s America ReFramed. The director is Elaine McMillion Sheldon. The reporter and producer is Alysia Santo of The Marshall Project. Edited by Chad Ervin and Elaine McMillion Sheldon. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.

Explore additional reporting related to "Two Strikes" and "Tutwiler" on our website:

#Documentary #Prison #CriminalJustice #Florida #Alabama #Pregnancy

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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; Park Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen. Major support for FRONTLINE and for “Two Strikes” and “Tutwiler” is from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional support for “Tutwiler” is from the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund.

0:00 - Prologue: Two Short Documentaries on the U.S. Criminal Justice System
1:06 – “Two Strikes”: A Carjacking, an Arrest and a Life Sentence
2:50 – Navigating a Life Sentence in a Florida Prison: ‘It’s a Long Time’
5:46 – Mark Jones’ Journey From Military Academy to Life in Prison
11:07 – Prosecutors Invoke Florida’s ‘Two-Strikes’ Law
13:20 – Mark Jones and His Family Navigate His Sentence of Life Without Parole
20:01 – “Tutwiler”: Pregnant in Prison
22:38 – Tutwiler and the Alabama Prison Birth Project (start at OK, I’m gonna start at the end and work my way down)
28:49 – The History of Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women
31:35 – Pumping Breastmilk Behind Bars
33:10 – Incarcerated Mothers Share Their Stories
34:15 – A Baby Shower in Prison (we see “clean & sober” celebration)
36:45 – Navigating Addiction in Prison
38:32 – Birth Classes and Preparing for Parenting in Prison
42:08 – Who Cares for Babies Born to Incarcerated Mothers?
43:19 – Giving Birth and Then Being Separated
52:00 - Credits
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