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Deadline
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Deadline is a remarkably good documentary. It is thought provoking and emotionally wrenching. Early on, I found myself drawn in, torn, going back and forth with each new argument for or against the death penalty. That's the mark of a well constructed doc. It shakes you up, makes you think, and ultimately re-examine what it is that you believe. As we age and change, we can outgrow some of our values without fully realizing it. Works like Deadline stimulate introspection and the clarification of one's deepest values by asking questions like, "What is the function of the State? The Courts? The Legal System as a whole? As a community, how do we define such things as mercy, compassion, forgiveness? What is Justice? And what is the value we give to human life?"

There seems to be a resurgence in documentaries in the last few years and Deadline shows just how powerful this genre of film making can be. Thanks for keeping the bar set so high. Enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2006
I watched this video as I am an actor presently performing in "The Exonerated," an award-winning play on the same topic. Before learning more about the topic, I was very naive in understanding how arbitrarily the death penalty is imposed in our country. Everyone who believes in justice and humanity should see this video and then decide for yourself what a citizen should do about the situation. It reveals what is wrong with our system and gives the real stories of those who are at work in our society to improve the criminal justice system.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2008
This is a gut-wrenching and thought provoking movie about the criminal justice system in the United States. The directors do an excellent job of demonstrating how emotional factors play into the prosecution of suspected murderers and how the more heinous the crime, the more likely an unjust verdict will be reached. Since it is the poor, the uneducated and the minorities who are the least protected in our society, they, of course, bear the brunt of the failure of our criminal justice system to protect the innocent. Deadline makes a very good point that as long as we focus on the outrage of the crime and ignore how capital murder cases are being prosecuted, we will be doomed to an unjust system.

I have just read two excellent compilations describing each and every case for those recently executed entitled, Death Penalty USA: 2003 - 2004 and Death Penalty USA: 2005 - 2006 by Michelangelo Delfino and Mary E. Day who also do an excellent job and I highly recommend these books if you really want to really know how the ultimate penalty is being imposed in the U.S.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2004
I saw the documentary DEADLINE at the Somerville Theatre as part of the Independent Film Festival of Boston and I was riveted throughout this film. This is such a well-crafted documentary and such an engaging story, not to mention a highly important one. Even though the death penalty is a heavy subject, this film manages to keep the mood from being depressing and the film has high entertainment value.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2005
Deadline is a great documentary about Gov Ryan's (R-IL) role when it took 160 inmates off death rows. The film goes into the death penalty's history and tries to show how it's flawed. Deadline will make you think about how reliable our justice system is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2005
The United States prides itself in democratic ideals, but at the same time, it is also very hypocritical because of the actions it undertakes and its treatment of minorities and its policies in foreign countries. This documentary exposes the corrupt and unjust law system within the state of Illinois. It shows how the history of the death penalty in that state has been carried out in an unlawful and inhumane manner. In the end though, all the prisoners held on death row in that state are taken off death row.
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The details of the Commission on the Death Penalty called by Governor George Ryan of Illinois in 2000 can be read in Scott Turow's book, "Ultimate Punishment". This is the human face on that story.

We start with a group of journalism students who decided to investigate the facts in the case of a convicted murderer on death row. They discovered that there were a great many things wrong with his trial, and that in fact another man eventually confessed to the crime. When he was released, the governor felt it was necessary to review all the cases on death row, not only to see if others were innocent, but whether some might be guilty but not deserving of a death penalty.

The film also reviews death cases in several other states, and specifically where certain practices show a decided bias against the poor and minorities. Among the people interviewed are a great many prisoners who were exonerated and those whose sentences were commuted. There are activists both for and against the death penalty. One of the most moving is a group of families of murder victims who oppose the death penalty. Some families demand vengeance, but others show compassion for the fact that the murderer is generally a victim, too.

Scott Turow appears several times in the film, which gives it a palpable link to his excellent book. Governor Ryan also appears, as do several prosecutors and defense attorneys. Prominent among the death penalty opponents is a former warden in a prison who relates how his experiences carrying out the death penalty several times changed his point of view.

The death penalty is one of the major ethical issues of our day, and deserves careful consideration. I have come to agree with Scott Turow on this, in that we simply cannot craft a death penalty which can be guaranteed to be applied justly and correctly every time. The risk of getting it wrong is just too high to be acceptable.
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