Clinton Lee Young spent over half his life in solitary confinement waiting to be executed by lethal injection on Texas’ infamous Polunksky ‘supermax’ prison’s death row. But something historic happened on Friday, October 29, 2021: Clinton was taken off death row and flown to the Midland County jail to be held for a new trial. Why? Clinton’s original trial judge had illegally worked with a key member of the prosecution team on Clinton’s case. A member of the prosecution actually wrote the judge’s rulings for the original trial and for later appeals to Clinton’s conviction.
The state of Texas has a long, infamous legacy of executing prisoners. Most die with little fanfare after suffering from poor legal representation at the hands of an Old Testament, frontier justice prosecution mindset determined to extract the ultimate penalty. Many, like the late Cameron Todd Willingham, are only recognized as wrongfully executed many years after the fact. Clinton Lee Young’s story is different. He’s still alive and making his case.
SHADY SHORES is an opportunity to examine not only Mr. Young’s case but the Texas Judicial System as exemplified by the astonishing facts of Clinton’s conviction. Beyond the debate of the efficacy of the death penalty itself, the film will contrast two cultures and dueling criminal justice systems that exist on earth at the same time and yet seem worlds apart: Texas and The Netherlands. How do such radically different places handle criminal justice? What history and concepts inform the two approaches? What can we learn and how can our systems be improved?
This film represents an opportunity to do more than just talk about social and criminal justice in America. A life is at stake and the system that delivered this version of justice continues to control the fate of hapless, mostly poor and poorly represented citizens trapped in a Byzantine legal machine.
About the Filmmaker
STEVE MIMS (PRODUCER/DIRECTOR/EDITOR)
Clio™ Award-winning commercial director and independent filmmaker Steve Mims’ fiction and non-fiction work has screened internationally in festivals, theatrically, and on television. His 2016 New York Times “Critic’s Pick” STARVING THE BEAST documented the systematic defunding and radical reform of public universities across America. The Los Angeles Times: called it “…a jolt of chilling clarity.” Variety: “polished and provocative.” The Village Voice: “Alarming…a strong narrative with compelling cinematography.” (93% Fresh, RT) His documentary INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE (2011) [co-directed by Joe Bailey, Jr.] won the 2011 SXSW Louis Black Award, the 2012 Innocence Network Journalism Award, and the 2013 Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Media Award. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called INCENDIARY: “Nonfiction filmmaking at its most classic. Crime, punishment, morality, and hardball politics make for an explosive mix all their own.” (83% Fresh, RT) Variety’s Justin Chang wrote of his feature narrative comedy ARLO & JULIE “…this comic mystery is a low-key, low-budget charmer.”[2014 Gold Award Feature Length Comedy Trinidad Independent Film Festival] (100% Fresh, RT) His 2016 viral political ad ELECT GERALD PLEASE was viewed 9 million times and won 11 local, national, and international awards including a Lone Star EMMY® Award. His most recent film is the 2018 documentary RUN LIKE THE DEVIL, the inside story of the historic senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke.