‘Second Looks, Second Chances’ examines parole reform for life sentences

Regina Austin, Penn Law’s William A. Schnader Professor of Law, has authored a new paper offering a behind-the-scenes account of producing “Second Looks, Second Chances for Pennsylvania Lifers: Commutation by the Numbers.” The video calls for expanded parole eligibility of Pennsylvanians sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Austin’s paper, “Second Looks, Second Chances’: Collaborating with Lifers on a Video about Commutation of LWOP Sentences,” is forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change.

Regina Austin
Regina Austin, the William A. Schnader Professor of Law (Photo courtesy: Penn Law)

Released in 2017, the documentary video was the result of a joint effort between the Penn Program on Documentaries and the Law (“Docs&theLaw”), of which Professor Austin is the director; Lifers, Inc. at Graterford State Correctional Institution; and the Pennsylvania Prison Society. 

Austin, who directed the film and co-produced it along with program facilitator Adam Brody, details in the paper the collaborative process of creating the video, and describes its underlying methodology and theoretical support. In Pennsylvania, a life sentence carries no possibility of parole, and there are currently more than 5,000 people serving such sentences in the state, she explains. The documentary “calls for an expansion of parole eligibility through increased exercise of the Governor’s executive power of commutation,” and the paper provides the video’s backstory from the perspective of the Docs&theLaw program.

Read more at Penn Law News.