December 9, 2016

20 Years Later

Samantha Broun talks to cops, politicians, inmates, and family closest to the crime that changed policy 20 years ago for inmates serving life sentences in Pennsylvania. It's a crime Samantha knows well, because it happened to her mom.

Samantha Broun testifying in front of a Senate Judiciary hearing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1995

This story was produced by Samantha Broun and Jay Allison for Transom, and won the Silver Award in the 2016 Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition.

There are descriptions of violence and sexual violence, so there is a content advisory, including a warning to parents that the episode is not for children.

Note: The internet version of this episode contains un-beeped curse words. BEEPED VERSION.


Ira re-listens to an interview he did with his mom 16 years ago, three years before she died. (4 minutes)

Act One

Samantha Broun interviews her mom about surviving a brutal attack by Reginald McFadden 20 years ago, and sets out to interview friends, family and policymakers about how that attack changed Pennsylvania law regarding life sentences at the time.

Additional information and outtakes are available on the Transom website. (40 minutes)


“Doin’ Time (Tricked Out Life Sentence Remix)” by Sublime

Act Two

Samantha continues toward McFadden, and talks to an inmate who knows something about the case that she never knew before. (12 minutes)


“I Want To Sing” by Fiona Kelleher