Film details former prosecutor's focus on fair sentencing for children as part of his faith
The new film “Redemption of the Prosecutor” shares the personal story of Preston Shipp, a former prosecutor who now works in partnership with the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth to end the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Producers hope that faith based organizations (and others) will use the film to begin or to advance conversations about juvenile justice, particularly the need to develop just alternatives to long prison terms for children.
The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, a CFSY official supporter, recently hosted the world premier screening of the film, which was produced by Brave New Foundation’s Beyond Bars Campaign in partnership with the United Methodist Church. Representatives from national faith organizations, advocacy groups and media entities were invited to attend.
The film reviews Preston’s background as an appellate prosecutor in Tennessee. His job was to argue on behalf of the state that the individuals who filed appeals deserved the sentence they received, a task that he did without ever meeting the convicted person. As a committed Christian, Preston says he was confident that he was doing the work of justice.
Preston’s perspective changed while teaching a class on the justice system at the Tennessee Prison for Women; he discovered that one of the brightest students in his class was also someone whose appeal he had argued against. Cyntoia Brown, who was convicted for a crime that occurred when she was 16, was engaging, well-spoken, and warm. In large part due to his experience with Cyntoia, Preston came to see the humanity he had been trained to ignore and to recognize her as someone who would be an asset to society outside of prison.
To learn more about the film and the accompanying discussion guide, or to arrange for a viewing to educate faith communities about the need for reform of our justice system, please visit http://www.redemptionoftheprosecutor.org/.