Oscar winner Sean Penn
has narrated a new TV documentary, which chronicles the injustices surrounding dozens of parents who were jailed on bogus child-abuse charges in Bakersfield, California in the 1980s.
The actor didn't hesitate to get involved in the project, called Witch Hunt
, because he wanted to expose those in public office who had made decisions that wrecked innocent families.
He tells TV Guide magazine, "Lives were shattered for the personal and political gain of the District Attorney's office and the Sheriff's Department in Kern County. Many of those corrupt officials continue to hold those positions today.
"There's a very current issue here."
Penn hopes the film, which will air in America on 12 April, prompts people to question the evidence in high-profile cases and stand up to those in office who encourage and benefit from public hysteria.
He adds, "There are all too many examples of the way in which public opinion is swayed by tainted evidence and emotional and irrational decision making.
"The public hysteria that surrounded this case is every bit as essential to discuss as the public corruption. These lightning-rod crimes tend to challenge our lawful assumption of innocence until proof of guilt."
In making the film, Penn admits he met many of the victims of the injustice and found them to be full of "unique gentleness and dignity".