In 1993, Danielle Metz was sentenced to triple life plus twenty years for nonviolent offenses associated with her abusive husband’s New Orleans drug organization. She was 26 with two small children - a 7-year-old Carl and 3-year-old Gleneisha. Danielle’s family would become one of thousands caught up in the US War on Drugs—a casualty of the system, another mother excessively sentenced for ‘boyfriend crimes,’ or offenses associated with their male partners.
Our film begins in 2017 - seven months after Danielle’s release from prison through President Obama’s Clemency Initiative, which was designed to address over-sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses. After 23 years, Danielle is finally home, running into her mother’s arms. But the glow of this incredible victory soon fades, as we learn that healing doesn’t end with release. The wounds of Danielle’s absence run deep, and her now-adult children are uncertain of how they fit into their mother’s life—and she into theirs. To make matters worse, her main source of strength is taken away seven months later when her mother dies. Danielle’s dream of a reunited family is not her reality.
Guided by a promise she made to her mother while she was still in prison, Danielle refocuses her purpose and commits herself to giving back. She begins mentoring young people and helping returning citizens receive healthcare. She emerges as a speaker, and as she shares her story, she is forced to confront the pain that she caused her family but also begins to understand and seriously challenge the broken system that upended her world. Part lyrical memoir and part verité documentary, Commuted is an intimate look at the familial impacts of incarceration and the hope of one mother to regain the family and life that she nearly lost.