Sundance’s ‘The System’

(Above: Joe Berlinger)

The System with Joe Berlinger, an eight-part expose of the American criminal justice system, launches this Thursday, February 8, as a Sundance Now exclusive. But the docuseries is hardly new, having debuted four years ago as one of the most ambitious original productions on the now-defunct cable network Al Jazeera America.

In the series, Berlinger “examines troubling cases that challenge the effectiveness of mandatory sentencing, explore the controversy surrounding the role of parole boards, and efforts of convicted people – claiming innocence – to vindicate themselves of their accused crimes.”

Berlinger had experience examining that last topic, having received an Oscar nomination for Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, his 2011 film about three teenagers in Arkansas who spent nearly 20 years in prison for murder before being released due to new DNA evidence. Amazon Prime subscribers can stream that doc now.

Sundance Now subscribers can also see Berlinger’s Crude (2009), about 30,000 Ecuadorian rainforest dwellers suing oil giant Chevron.

And here, thanks to the still-existing Al Jazeera America YouTube channel, is episode five of The System with Joe Berlinger, titled “Parole: High Risks, High Stakes”:

Titles of the other episodes are “False Confessions,” “Mandatory Sentencing,” “Flawed Forensics,” “Eyewitness Identification,” “ Juvenile Justice,” “Geography of Punishment” and “Prosecutorial Misconduct.”

Sundance Now, offering independent films, documentaries and TV series, costs $6.99 monthly or $59.99 annually after a seven-day free trial. It’s available at or via iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Fire TV and Chromecast.



About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

View All Articles

Leave a Comment