District of Second Chances – FAMM

District of Second Chances

We all deserve a second chance.

FAMM’s latest storytelling endeavor is “District of Second Chances,” a documentary film that dives into the impact of Washington, D.C.’s “second look” laws on three men: Anthony “Pete” Petty, Gene Downing, and Colie Levar Long. FAMM has long supported this kind of legislation, driven by the belief that people like Pete, Gene, and Colie change over time, and incarceration long past the point of necessity makes no one safer.

D.C. is leading the way in “second look laws,” legislation that is part of a transformational criminal justice reform movement spreading across the country. But, as the film shows, a second chance is never guaranteed.

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Produced by: FAMM Foundation
Director/Producer:  Wynette Yao
Cinematographer/Editor: Travis Edwards
Run Time: 76 mins


A quest for redemption is unfolding in Washington, D.C. Thanks to forward-looking “second chance” legislation, three men who were sentenced in their youth to life in prison have the chance to plead for release.

The film captures their journeys as they unfold: Anthony “Pete” Petty, who has just won his freedom and must rebuild his life after three decades in prison; Gene Downing, who awaits his second chance hearing after two decades behind bars and hopes to reunite with a daughter born after his incarceration; and Colie Levar Long, who is mentoring youth incarcerated with him at D.C. Jail. He longs to finish college as a free man after a 26-year interruption.

Second chance reform comes at a time when prison populations are aging, and we as a society have an increased understanding of the impact that incarceration has had on communities. Neuroscience research shows that areas of the brain that handle judgment and decision-making are not completely developed in emerging adults between the ages of 18-25, meaning that people change and mature as they age.

Everyone deserves a second chance. It’s time our nation’s laws reflect that.

See what people are saying:

“Through raw, intimate human stories, this film shows us how Washington, D.C. has decided to welcome home a generation it once abandoned. Honest and hopeful, this film is guaranteed to soften hearts, lift spirits, and change minds.” James Forman, Jr., Skelly Wright Professor, Yale Law School Faculty Director, Yale Law and Racial Justice Center

“With violent crime on the rise in some parts of the country, now might seem like the wrong time to engage in a conversation about how we sentence people convicted of serious violence. But the timing is exactly right. What impact do lengthy prison terms actually have on public safety and on victims and communities? Might other strategies be more effective? If you’re serious about preventing violent crime, you need to wrestle with these questions – and watch this film.” Adam Gelb, President and CEO, Council on Criminal Justice

Cast List:

Main characters:

  • Anthony “Pete” Petty
  • Gene Downing
  • Colie Levar Long

Family members:

  • Debbie Allison
  • Shadon Petty
  • Lisa Twitty
  • Patricia Ann Long


  • Charles Allen (D.C. Council)
  • Annalisa Buttici (Georgetown University)
  • Lamont Carey (Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens Affairs)
  • Crystal Carpenter (Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth)
  • Sarah Comeau (School Justice Project)
  • Halim Flowers (Artist/Activist)
  • Destiny Fullwood (Second Look Project)
  • Kristin Henning (Georgetown University)
  • Marc M. Howard (Georgetown University)
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (Congress)
  • Karl Racine (Former Attorney General)
  • Kevin Ring (Arnold Ventures)
  • Marc Schindler (Maryland Department of Juvenile Services)
  • Eric Weaver (National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens)
  • James Zeigler (Second Look Project)