I’m not a fan of True Crime and I don’t read mysteries, but I felt from the beginning that there was something deeper that had not been explored in the Pamela Smart case – something universal and disturbing. I visited Pam in prison and began talking with her on the phone. It quickly became clear to me that she was not the person that had been represented in the media. As our team explored every inch of the case, a number of questions began to swirl in my head about the nature of justice, about perception, about fame and about story-telling and retelling. Was this trial fair? Was Pam’s sentence fair? If not, why not? What role did the media play in the case and what role did the films and novels written after the trial play in defining this woman’s identity and her subsequent appeals?
As I explored these questions, it became more and more clear to me that an irrefutable injustice had been committed, not by any one specific person but by all of us. The entire country was complicit: every watcher, ever reader and every storyteller. Me included. Our justice system is not blind, it has eyes and they are glued to a television set that sits in a living room in front of an easy chair, where all of us can feel free to make life and death judgments based on faulty flickering information.
This phenomenon has its archetype in the Pamela Smart case. It is part of our nation’s shared legacy and it is something we must grapple with.
Jeremiah Zagar, Director