Social justice filmmakers always dream of having legislative impact. A chance to strategically create change that truly makes a concrete difference. A movement that leads to tangible change in by framing an important but largely invisible issue in meaningful human terms. Meaningful terms that affect communities. Reunite families. Give women who have been incarcerated for decades a glimmer of hope and a future in the free world.
With Sin by Silence, we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to create enough of an impact to free the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse. To create more than just a film. To create an impact that went straight to the California Capitol to directly help release the women who are featured in the film. In 2012, our dream finally is coming true with The Sin by Silence Bills (AB 593 & AB1593).
In 2009, California faced an unanticipated challenge when the Governor eliminated all funding for domestic violence agencies. But, the tide turned as Californian's cried out for justice and safety for families. Four months later, the State government temporarily reinstated shelter funding for the fiscal year. But, the damage was already done. Across the state, five shelters already had to permanently close their doors to victims needing help in their area. The Quiet Little Place team was invited to join the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence in Sacramento for Legislative Action Days taking place on the 1 year anniversary of our debut. As a pivotal moment in our campaign, Sin by Silence screened for the Select Committee on Domestic Violence, as well as the Legislative Women's Caucus in order to help bring urgency to the ever growing issues of domestic violence throughout the state. Our team, as well as Brenda Clubine who is featured in the film, were part of the taking part of various meetings with legislators to help educate about the resources needed to support domestic violence programs and services throughout California.
In 2010, the Quiet Little Place team was invited to join the Women In Government conferences to present our film and research directly to female legislators from across the country. As a result, we were able to personally inspire California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma to take on our cause to help the remaining survivors trapped behind bars. The result? A journey to bring to life new legislation that would make history in California.
In 2011, we gathered key individuals from the California Habeas Project, UC Berkeley Law, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, along with key survivors and lawyers who helped their cases find freedom to head to Sacramento for an information hearing hosted by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. All of our hard work, and years of outreach, came down to this moment when we were able to present the cause to the Capitol. This pivotal hearing lit an emotional flame that has fueled a movement and the Sin by Silence Bill (AB 593) is awaiting a final vote from the State Senate to change the laws that continue to keep many of the women in the film still behind bars. Sin by Silence is more than just a film - it represents what great television can do when we act - lives will change, women’s roles will transform, and the next generation will be empowered to act with courage.
After countless conference calls, meetings, trips to Sacramento, and speaking at legislative hearings, Governor Brown signed the Sin by Silence Bills into law and went into effect on January 1, 2013.
“I am so proud that Governor Brown has signed both of my bills,” stated Assemblywoman Ma. “Today, we give hope to approximately 7,000 victims across the state who have survived domestic violence, who believed the system had failed them, and will now have an opportunity to speak out against injustice.”
This effort would not have happened without the Sin by Silence network who joined with us, signed petitions, made calls to legislators and Governor Brown to ensure these bills became law!