The podcast hosting platform Acast announced last fall that it would reach into content with the launch of its new original content development arm called Acast Studios. It’s also continuing to strike alliances with outside producers. That’s led to the creation of the new crime podcast Abuse of Power. The podcast is a joint production of Acast and the film and television producer Campfire, which has created TV shows like “The Innocent Man” for Netflix and “The Most Dangerous Animal of All” for FX.
Set for launch in May, the Abuse of Power podcast will be hosted by David Rudolf and Sonya Pfeiffer, the husband-and-wife criminal defense duo who have dedicated their lives to combating egregious abuses in law enforcement and civil rights violations. “As attorneys who utilize the power of storytelling in the courtroom, we also rely on its function as a catalyst for change outside the courtroom,” Rudolf and Pfeiffer said in a joint statement. They said their goal with the Abuse of Power podcast is to build awareness for the issue and to motivate listeners. “The sooner we stop ‘othering’ and start understanding, the sooner we’ll find solutions to the systemic problems within our criminal justice system,” they said.
In each episode of the show, Rudolf and Pfeiffer spotlight a new case in which misconduct within the system resulted in a significant injustice, such as a wrongful prosecution or conviction. The shows will lean heavily on interviews with those directly involved in each case, including the defendants, lawyers, experts and family members.
“Podcasting is among the most powerful platforms of our time for broadcasting misconduct in the criminal justice system,” said Acast Director of Content Veronika Taylor. “In the past few years alone, we’ve seen podcasts lead to meaningful and effective reform.”
In a 7-2 decision last June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 2010 conviction of Curtis Flowers, the Mississippi man whose murder convictions were the subject of the American Public Media podcast In the Dark. Flowers had faced the death penalty for allegedly murdering four people in a Winona, MS furniture store in 1996. But the court said his constitutional rights had been violated since the district attorney in the case intentionally kept African-Americans off Flowers’ jury.
Nearly two years ago the Radiotopia podcast Ear Hustle led former California Governor Jerry Brown to commute the sentence of Walter “Earlonne” Woods, who served 21 years in prison for his part in an attempted robbery in 1997. Ear Hustle sheds an occasionally harsh light on life inside prison, interviewing convicts about what life is like behind bars.
Now as Acast offers its take on the state of criminal justice, it brings Campfire into podcasting with a subject that CEO Ross Dinerstein said is all too familiar to them. “Through our work, all of us at Campfire have seen first-hand the heartbreaking effects of the flawed criminal justice system, as well as the power that television, film and podcasts wield in bringing these stories to light and ultimately prompting change,” he said.
In addition to Campfire and Acast, Abuse of Power is being produced in partnership with Gilded Audio, Such Content and Gramercy Media. Campfire Vice President of Non-Fiction Content Rebecca Evans is spearheading and producing the series, alongside co-producer Annalie Gernert.