The series, produced by Radical Media, will examine subjects such as false confessions, mandatory sentencing and the treatment of juvenile offenders.
Documentaries about criminal justice (and injustice) are a specialty of Berlinger’s, best known for directing “Paradise Lost,” a film trilogy about the West Memphis Three. Those films documented the trials of a trio of teenagers convicted of murder. New evidence secured their freedom more than 18 years after they entered prison.
“The System” will debut March 16 at 9 p.m. with an episode about thousands of dubious rulings and the flawed forensic evidence that produced them. Berlinger focuses on two men, one convicted as a result of questionable witness testimony and poor hair analysis, another freed because of FBI failures.
A new episode will air each Sunday for two weeks after that, and the final five episodes will being airing in May. Berlinger will introduce a specific topic at the beginning of each episode, interviewing lawyers, victims, families of the accused and other experts, drawing lessons from the specific cases and also the broader implications for the criminal justice system.
Berlinger’s latest film, about infamous mobster Whitey Bulger, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will air on CNN in the Spring. Al-Jazeera America launched a documentary film unit last August a couple of weeks before the new cable channel launched in the United States. It has dedicated itself to tackling subjects like criminal justice, which get less attention in the breathless reporting of trials on many other cable news networks.