By Karin Drucker
Sense and Sensibility
In 2009, prison workers drove Debbie Peagler from the Central California State Prison for Women to a Denny’s near Chowchilla, California. At 49, Debbie had stage IV lung cancer and an estimated three months to live. She joked, “I came to freedom in a Denny’s parking lot.” She died ten months later.
Debbie Peagler is the subject of a documentary film Crime After Crime, which follows two lawyers as they challenged her sentence, of which she had already served 20 years. The lawyers were utilizing California’s habeas law, which allows women who had been survivors of domestic violence to take their cases back to court. Eventually Debbie was granted a compassionate release, but she left behind many women like her who are continuing to grow old in Chowchilla.