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Guilt by Association (2002)

Life is good for Susan, her two children and new boyfriend Russell. But life abruptly changes when she discovers her perfect boyfriend is a drug dealer. Realising the danger this could ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Susan Walker
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Angie
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Russell
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Roxanne
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Marguerite (prison chaplain)
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Asia Vieira ...
Teenage Hannah
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Teenage Max
Mallory Margel ...
Young Hannah
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Young Max
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Ramona
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June (as Brandi Marie Ward)
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Shirley
Kathryn Haggis ...
Greta
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Old Lucy
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Storyline

Life is good for Susan, her two children and new boyfriend Russell. But life abruptly changes when she discovers her perfect boyfriend is a drug dealer. Realising the danger this could bring to her family she tells him to leave. Suddenly her house is raided and Susan is arrested as a co-conspirator in Russell's drug business. Her situation goes from bad to worse when she finds herself behind bars with violent criminals. How will she ever prove her innocence when the system seems against her? Guilt By Association is a disturbing story based on true events. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He Did The Crime ... She Did The Time

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

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Release Date:

13 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Coupable par amour  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 4,100,000 (estimated)
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User Reviews

 
Lives ruined by bad legislation
23 June 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This powerful and disturbing film portrays the horrifying unintended consequences of bad Congressional legislation in America, where lives are ruined by idiotic laws. The subject is 'mandatory minimum sentencing' under an Act of Congress dating from 1986. The fact that Congress could be so stupid as ever to pass this law will come as no surprise to the large majority of the American population who have said in repeated polls that they have less respect for members of Congress than they have for used car salesmen. After all, the notorious, and probably unconstitutional, Patriot Act, was originally passed by Congress without having been read by a single senator or congressman. The Patriot Act effectively abolishes a large part of the American Constitution, but few seem to be troubled by this fact. When it came up for renewal not long ago, only 23 senators voted against it, which means that the U. S. Senate at the present time consists of 23 sane people outvoted by 77 incompetent morons or dangerous psychopaths, whichever description may be considered the more charitable. But then, that too is no surprise to the public, I expect. When has respect for any branch of Government ever been lower in America? In this instance, the woman sent to prison for a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years (yes, I did say twenty years) is named Susan Walker, and her story is a true story, although apparently a conflation of three separate cases with some identities fictionalised. Susan Walker got this heavy sentence despite the fact that she did nothing wrong! No, she did not kill anybody, rob anybody, or even insult the flag. She was entirely innocent, but she was caught in a legislative trap. Americans seem to love 'wars', and they fight wars against everything. They have a war on cancer, a war on drugs, a war on crime, a war on carbon, a war on 'terror', but strangely enough, no war on corrupt bankers, no war on illegal eavesdropping, no war on IRS persecution of political groups, no war on abuses of power, no war on government fraud and waste. In other words, the 'wars' which are actually waged are largely phoney. This film deals with the massively phoney 'war on drugs'. It has been well known for decades that the American Government itself, through its security agencies, deals in drugs constantly. Remember the Iran-Contra Scandal? Of course, nothing is done about that, but people who grow a few marijuana plants are treated as master criminals and sent to jail for interminable periods of time. And I do not criticize this because I like marijuana. I have never smoked any and hate the smell of that smoke so much I will cross the street to get away from it sticking to somebody's clothes who passes me. So I could be described as a truly extreme marijuana-hater. Nor have I taken any other non-medical drug. In fact, I hate drugs and even believe that major dealers should be executed. But having made my position on drugs clear, I believe that the 1986 drug legislation is one of the worst laws ever passed in the USA. This film shows why. Susan Walker, played in a bravura performance worthy of an Oscar by Mercedes Ruehl, is a widow with two children who has a boyfriend named Russell (shiftily played by Alex Carter). He smokes pot once in a while, which irritates Susan and she says she cannot have him doing that near her children. She even breaks with him over this and throws him out of the house. But before doing so, she answered a phone call from a friend of his and passed him the phone, not knowing what it was about. This was to turn out to be her 'crime'. After ridding herself of the boyfriend, Susan is asleep early one morning when armed policeman batter down her door and raid her house, tearing it apart looking for drugs. She is taken away in handcuffs. It turns out that her ex-boyfriend and some of his friends whom she barely knew had been secretly growing 2000 marijuana plants, smoking the result, and selling the remainder to friends. She knew nothing about any of this. Under the crazy legislation, anyone associated with a drugs offender who has even unwittingly passed on a message relating to drugs (as she did by answering her own phone and saying to him 'It's for you') must be given a mandatory minimum sentence not less than the offender himself. Under the equally sinister plea-bargaining system, the true offenders can then reduce their own sentences by 'giving information' about someone else. All the real offenders in this case 'give information' against Susan and get their sentences reduced. But she, the only one who is completely innocent, can give no information because she knows nothing, so she gets twenty years and some of them get only a few years. This travesty of justice has been repeated many times and is apparently still going on. In 2010, 39.4% of the prisoners in America were in prison on mandatory minimum sentences. Tens of thousands of wives, girl friends, sisters, neighbours, and other innocents have flooded the women's prisons in America despite the fact that they themselves did little or nothing, and their sentences are generally greater than those of the criminals who really did do something. This is a 'message picture', but what a horrifying and important message! Mercedes Ruehl is overwhelmingly convincing throughout in her harrowing role. I cannot reveal the end, but few of these wrongly imprisoned people ever got out without serving their full sentences. A tiny handful were pardoned by Clinton, after intense pressure, but not exonerated. So many lives have been ruined by this idiotic legislation, and the courageous people who made this film to expose this miscarriage of justice all deserve medals, as well as the campaigners on this tragic issue.


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