A lifelong Republican District Attorney in small-town Texas pursues criminal justice reform in the face of resistance from her conservative community.

District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
April 25, 2021
12:41 minutes
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Series and Special Projects
Constance headshot of Sally O'Grady

Sally O'Grady

Sally O’Grady is a producer and director whose non-fiction films have appeared at festivals throughout Europe, Australia and the U.S. She has created content for National Geographic, History Channel, The Smithsonian, MSNBC, PBS and Discovery Channel. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she now lives in Austin, TX where, along with friend and Show more colleague Jennell Lewis, she recently launched the production company Headlands Studio. Show less

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The Film

Elected in 2019, District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson of Victoria, Texas has an agenda. A  lifelong Republican, Filley Johnson aims to implement and expand alternative sentencing in her community through specialty courts, programs that involve rigorous outpatient treatment, counselling, training, and accountability as an alternative to jail time for nonviolent offenders. In order to be successful, these programs must have active support from local judges, but there is resistance to the non-punitive approach in this small town. If Filley Johnson can persuade conservative Judge Eli Garza to participate in her DWI and drug courts, she has a chance at making a tangible change to the lives of individuals caught up in the criminal justice system.