Last month, convicted murderer Patsy Kelly Jarrett was released from prison after 28 years, largely, her lawyer said, because of a documentary by Ofra Bikel, a producer for the PBS series “Frontline,” reports the New York Times. Jarrett was the 13th prisoner released in 14 years of profiles by Bikel. “It’s a little embarrassing,” Abbe Smith, Jarrett’s attorney, said of Bikel. “I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer for 22 years, and her work has probably led to the release of more prisoners than mine.”
Said Bikel: “I hate injustice. It just bugs me.” Speaking of her success rate with picking future parolees, she says, “I can’t take somebody who has molested a child and now is in for the wrong murder. If I want to convince people, I have to be smart about it. I want someone who is without a huge baggage of crimes. People have to look at the shows and say, ‘No way, this can’t happen in this country.’ ” Bikel turned to the judicial system as her main subject in 1990, when she investigated a case of child sexual abuse in North Carolina that would result in three documentaries over a seven-year period. Her work is not praised for fancy camerawork but for revealing interviews that convey both legal and human complexity, the Times says.