Search About Newsletters Donate
News and Awards

The Marshall Project and FRONTLINE Present Documentary Special About U.S. Prisons

FRONTLINE will screen “Two Strikes” and “Tutwiler” on September 5.

Left: Mark Jones, serving life without parole in a Florida prison. Right: Incarcerated women at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.
Left: Mark Jones, serving life without parole in a Florida prison. Right: Incarcerated women at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.

The Marshall Project has collaborated with Frontline on a two-part documentary special exploring two underreported elements of the U.S. criminal justice system. The first film, produced in association with Firelight Media, examines the impact of a little-known “two-strikes” law, and the second film offers an intimate portrait of the complexities of pregnancy in prison. Airing Tue., Sept 5, at 10 p.m. EST on PBS, the hour-long special featuring “Two Strikes” and “Tutwiler” will also be available to stream online.

“Two Strikes” tells the story of how a former West Point cadet struggling with PTSD and addiction got life in prison in Florida after an attempted carjacking — a sentence that even the woman whose car he’d tried to take viewed as too harsh. But under a Florida statute that increases prison time for repeat offenders, Mark Jones’ fate had been sealed.

“My sentence is life without the possibility of parole,” Jones says. “So I’m in here till I die.”

As the documentary explores, Florida’s so-called “two-strikes” law, more formally called the Prison Releasee Reoffender law, results in people getting mandatory maximum sentences for committing felonies within a few years of their release from prison. Often these crimes are robberies, burglaries or thefts in which no one is injured. Through the lens of Jones’ case, “Two Strikes” raises tough questions about crime, punishment and rehabilitation — and how harsh sentencing laws can mean that some people who did not physically harm anyone end up incarcerated for life.

The “Two Strikes” documentary team consists of producer and director Ursula Liang, a 2022 FRONTLINE/Firelight Media Filmmaker Fellow; producer Tessa Travis; and co-producer & reporter Cary Aspinwall of The Marshall Project. It premiered at the Florida Film Festival earlier this year.

Then: What is it like to give birth — and be forced to say goodbye to your baby 24 hours later? FRONTLINE and The Marshall Project go inside Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in “Tutwiler,” an unforgettable window into the lives of incarcerated pregnant women — and what happens to their newborns.

Many of these women are survivors of domestic violence and have struggled with substance abuse disorders. Working with a group of doulas, they attend parenting classes, dream up names for their babies, and plan for how they’ll maintain their sobriety once they’ve served their time.

But nothing can fully prepare them for what’s to come. As one incarcerated woman says, “When you were locked up your whole pregnancy, and it was just you and that baby, and then to walk away from the person that’s been there with you, it makes the strongest person break.”

Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (“Heroin(e)”, “Recovery Boys”), and reported and produced by The Marshall Project’s Alysia Santo, “Tutwiler” is a powerful lens into the reality of pregnancy and parenthood for incarcerated women.

Produced in association with WORLD’s America ReFramed, the documentary won the audience award at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival, had its world premiere at Hot Springs Film Festival in October 2019, and screened at the 2020 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The film originally broadcast on WORLD on May 19, 2020.

“Two Strikes” and “Tutwiler” will be available to watch in full at pbs.org/frontline, themarshallproject.org, and in the PBS App starting Sept. 5, 2023, at 7 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CST. The two-part series will premiere on PBS stations (check local listings) and on FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel at 10 p.m EST/9 p.m. CST. “Two Strikes” will also be available to stream online with Spanish captions. “Two Strikes” and “Tutwiler” are distributed internationally by PBS International. Subscribe to FRONTLINE’s newsletter to get updates on events, podcast episodes and more related to the documentaries.

Credits

“Two Strikes” is a FRONTLINE Production with Noncompliant Films in association with Firelight Media & The Marshall Project. The director and producer is Ursula Liang. The producer is Tessa Travis. The co-producer & reporter is Cary Aspinwall of The Marshall Project. Edited by Eugene Yi. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.

“Tutwiler” is a Requisite Media film for FRONTLINE and The Marshall Project in association with WORLD’s America ReFramed. The director is Elaine McMillion Sheldon. The reporter and producer is Alysia Santo, The Marshall Project. Edited by Chad Ervin, Elaine McMillion Sheldon. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.

About The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. The Marshall Project engages the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system. We partner with local and national media outlets to reach diverse audiences, from people who want to learn more about criminal justice to experts who turn to us for fresh, accurate information. To learn more, visit TheMarshallProject.org and follow them on Instagram, TikTok, Reddit and Facebook.

About FRONTLINE

FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 104 Emmy Awards and 31 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to learn more. FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional support for FRONTLINE is provided by the Abrams Foundation, Park Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund, with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.

About the FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship

The Frontline/Firelight Fellowship supports diverse, independent producers interested in investigative documentary filmmaking and audio storytelling. The Fellowship is offered in partnership with Firelight Media, a nonprofit organization that supports nonfiction filmmakers of color and cultivates audiences for their work.

Press Contacts:

The Marshall Project

Nicole Funaro, Communications Associate

nfunaro@themarshallproject.org

FRONTLINE

Anne Husted, Manager, Public Relations and Communications

frontlinemedia@wgbh.org | 617.300.5312

This is not a paywall.

We’ll never put our work behind a paywall, and we’ll never put a limit on the number of articles you can read. Our ability to take on big, groundbreaking investigations — the kind that can lead to real impact — doesn’t depend on advertisers or corporate owners. It depends on people like you. Our independence is our strength, and your donation makes us stronger.

Donate