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by Alison Willmore
March 21, 2014 4:35 PM
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Alex Gibney, Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon Pen Anti-Death Penalty Op-ed

Robert Redford CNN

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."


  • maria | March 27, 2014 8:05 PMReply

    Its all good to be so blood thirsty unless one or a loved one is in that 0.4%. Super ddue process? Any idea how hard it is to get judges to even listen to the cases? Ryan Ferguson comes to mind, Damian Echols, for you two blood thirsty folk, its aok to kill a few innocent ones to make sure you get the guilty? I would stake money you are a white republican christian.

  • Anonymous | March 28, 2014 11:16 PM

    It's about having integrity. Being 100% honest in reporting. Otherwise, don't cry foul when you or a loved one is wrongly accused and/or charged with a crime by someone who uses the same tactics: embellishing and/or twisting the truth.

    I'm not for the death penalty. I'm for integrity and being honest at all costs even if it doesn't align with my view or yours 100% because THAT'S what leads to change and THAT'S what gets people to listen. You can continue on with embellishing, twisting the truth, and inciting others with your mob-like mentality using name-calling "blood thirsty folk." I'll stick with integrity, looking at the facts and formulating an objective opinion.

  • Dudley Sharp | March 22, 2014 7:54 AMReply

    Their op/ed is terrible.

    From my comments at their op/ed:

    Here, a true idiotic statement by the authors:

    " . . . exonerations came in spite of the system, not because of it. It is a system that seeks execution first, and rarely asks questions of itself later — if at all."

    This is so utterly devoid of factual accuracy, it is, simply, astounding.

    Let's look at reality, what is done before executions.

    37% of all death penalty cases are overturned on appeal, an additional 5% are commuted and only 15% are executed.

    42% removed from death row because of super due process and concern. 15% executed after completion of super due process, with 11 years of appeals, on average.

    With 0.4% actually innocent released upon appeals, with super due process, over a period of 41 years.

    That is the system. Does it, remotely, appear to be an execution first exercise,, without concern for due process?

    You folks have no shame.

  • Anonymous | March 27, 2014 4:33 PM

    Thank you, Dudley, for supporting your comment with facts rather than resorting to the typical hyperbolic opinions purported as facts in an effort to generate public outrage. If only the authors of this article could maintain the same journalistic integrity as you have.