St. Louis on the Air
4:34 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

New Films Examine Role Of Public Defenders, St. Louis Ex-Con Turned Court Worker

Two new documentary films showing at the St. Louis International Film Festival are taking on the perception and work of public defenders in the criminal justice system.

“I think the biggest public misconception about public defenders is that we don’t care and we are poor attorneys, poor meaning we don’t do a very good job and we don’t know how to try cases,” said Brandy Alexander, assistant public defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit in Florida.

Alexander is featured in “Gideon’s Army,” which “tells the stories of an inspiring trio of young defenders – who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal-justice system strained to the breaking point.”

“I’ve found that public defenders are very empathetic to their clients and I think that’s required in order to do this work sufficiently and well,” said Alexander.

Another film, “Out of the Box: How a Culture Changed,” features Doug Burris, the Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the U.S. Court of the Eastern District of Missouri, and Clark Porter, and ex-con who now works as a program support specialist for the Court.

“Our country incarcerates more people than other country on the planet – in fact the Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of every 15 adults in this country will serve a prison term during their lifetime…and that’s for a felony conviction,” said Burris.

Burris initiated an innovative and successful supervised-release program which has become a model.

“(Felons) – the vast majority, 97 percent – come home. And, the public needs to understand with some hope and help the majority can succeed and not return to prison,” he said.

In October 2012, St. Louis Public Radio profiled Clark Porter’s remarkable story in a two-part series, available here and here.

A discussion about two new documentary films showing at the St. Louis International Film Festival which examine the roles and perceptions of public defenders.

Related Events

St. Louis International Film Festival Presents "Out of the Box: How a Culture Changed"
Saturday, November 16, 2013
12:00 Noon
Washington University's Brown Hall’s Auditorium, Forsyth Blvd. and Chaplin Dr.
For more information, call 314-289-4150 or visit the Cinema St. Louis website.

St. Louis International Film Festival Presents "Gideon’s Army"
Sunday, November 17, 2013
12:00 Noon
Washington University's Brown Hall’s Auditorium, Forsyth Blvd. and Chaplin Dr.
For more information, call 314-289-4150 or visit the Cinema St. Louis website.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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