Alex Gibney and Robert Redford are the executive producers of “Death Row Stories,” a CNN docuseries that premiered March 9th and explores different cases of capital crimes, raising pressing questions about the death penalty and process. Susan Sarandon, who won an Oscar for her role in “Dead Man Walking,” narrates. Now the three have joined together to write a piece in Salon urging everyone to consider the “disturbing patterns that reveal systemic problems” in the cases they’ve examined:
Whether Democratic or Republican, legislators can no longer ignore the fatal flaw in the justice system. At a minimum, we must insist that they find a way to hold prosecutors accountable for misconduct that can – if intentional — amount to premeditated murder. More broadly, we should insist that lawmakers face the most harrowing question from all of our death row stories: if the institution of capital punishment – with consequences so final and irreversible — can never be a perfect instrument of criminal justice, is the institution itself a criminal injustice?
CNN’s acquisition and broadcast of “Blackfish” has led to pressure and scrutiny for SeaWorld — can “Death Row Stories” generate the same kind of energy around the more entrenched issue of capital punishment? Talking to Indiewire at a CNN event in January, Gibney described “Death Row Stories” as first “a series of great crime stories.” “But I think themes emerge,” he continued, “and one is that the system itself is badly broken. That, I think, is something that we have to recognize, and in part, it’s because it’s not a particular story, but a series of stories, and they seem to have the same kind of pattern.”