Suave
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Suave

Author: Futuro Studios and PRX

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The U.S is the only country in the world that allows minors to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Approximately 2,500 juveniles have been effectively sentenced to die in prison—considered “irredeemable” by the state for crimes committed when they were just teenagers. One of them was David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez, who entered prison at 17 expecting to leave in a coffin. Suave tells the story of what happens when your whole world is a prison cell, and you suddenly get a second chance at life. It’s the story of one man’s incarceration and redemption and an unusual relationship between a journalist and a source.
8 Episodes
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Trailer: Suave

Trailer: Suave

2021-02-0203:251

Introducing "Suave," a podcast about juveniles sentenced to die in prison told through one man's journey. In 1988, David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez was found guilty of first-degree homicide. A Philadelphia judge sentenced him to life without parole for a crime committed when he was 17 years old. At a Pennsylvania prison, Suave joined the largest population of juvenile lifers in the country—young men considered by the justice system to be “irredeemable,” destined to die in prison for acts committed when they were just teenagers. Acclaimed journalist Maria Hinojosa met Suave 27 years ago in prison while working on a story. They kept in touch over the decades by phone, letters, and occasional visits. Originally, she maintained contact in order to have a source inside the prison system. But over the years, their relationship evolved. And then a Supreme Court ruling changed everything, forever altering the course of Suave’s life.
1. The Sentence

1. The Sentence

2021-02-0934:056

“The very last word she said was ‘You can become a voice for the voiceless.’ And I was just like, ‘Damn, why am I letting this lady mess up my high?’” We meet Suave, a man who has been serving a life sentence at a Pennsylvania maximum-security prison since he was a teenager. And we learn about his decades-long relationship as a source with journalist Maria Hinojosa. Suave has come to terms with the fact that he will never leave the confines of Graterford prison. That is until a Supreme Court ruling suddenly grants him a second chance to fight for his freedom.
2. The Hustle

2. The Hustle

2021-02-0939:225

“I was fascinated with the lifestyle. I was fascinated with prison flicks. That's how you get the street credibility. You know, I'm gonna be the baddest dude on the block.” Maria learns more about Suave’s early life in the South Bronx and the crime Suave was convicted of as a teenager in the Badlands of Philadelphia. We explore the tactics of ruthless prosecutors that led to Pennsylvania becoming the state that sentenced the most minors in the country to life in prison without parole. Meanwhile, Suave anxiously awaits the decision from a judge that could grant him the opportunity to experience adult life on the outside.
3. The Old Head

3. The Old Head

2021-02-1631:166

“We had a secret, unspoken bond. We’re all dying in here. And I felt like I was breaking that bond. I feel like I'm leaving my brothers behind.” Suave moves to a transitional housing unit at Graterford and begins to prepare for his release. But as he readies for life on the outside, his excitement gives way to a “never-ending list of fears” about life outside of prison. Suave also reckons with some complicated emotions—both the unparalleled joys of his upcoming release and the guilt of leaving behind the men he’s considered his brothers for nearly three decades. Maria ponders how her relationship with Suave will change now that they have a chance to explore their connection beyond a journalist-source relationship, as she travels to Graterford on his release day to bring him home.
4. The Release

4. The Release

2021-02-2343:219

“I never dreamed that it would be this good. Even the worst day that I have is good. I'm going up… and I know everything that goes up must come down.” Suave kicks off his first day of freedom by checking things off his bucket list, including a long overdue conversation with his brother and an apology to students at a school in his old neighborhood in the Badlands. We follow Suave in his first year of freedom as he experiences the excitement of many firsts and as he tries to adjust to his new life on the outside…. until an unexpected revelation puts Suave’s future into doubt.
5. The Doubts

5. The Doubts

2021-03-0236:386

“Doesn’t matter if you doing good, if you got a job, it doesn't matter—it could be snatched up in a heartbeat and there's nothing you could do about it.” Suave returns to prison and goes silent for weeks. Maria tries to figure out why and finds herself torn between her faith in Suave’s innocence and her responsibility to believe his accuser. Suave finds it impossible to adjust to being back in prison. Maria questions the entire parole system of and whether Suave will ever be truly free. Suave finally goes before a judge and again finds himself fighting for his freedom.
6. The Corner

6. The Corner

2021-03-0936:033

“That little place right here changed my whole life. December 6, 1986. 15 seconds. 15 seconds changed my whole life.”  Suave has been cleared from all accusations and is free once again. He returns with Maria to the corner of 8th and Somerset in the Badlands — the place where his victim’s young life ended and the place that changed the course of Suave’s life. And Suave reveals to Maria a shocking story she’s never heard before about the night of the murder in 1986.
7. The Reckoning

7. The Reckoning

2021-03-1629:488

“There's no winners in this. You’re a victim so you victimize other people because you’re hurt. It's a circle and it goes on and on.” Suave reckons with the last three decades of his life and begins to deal with the traumas of his childhood and incarceration that he’s long buried. Maria and Maggie discuss how the Supreme Court decision has played out differently across the country, leaving some other juvenile lifers still behind bars. Maria worries about the lasting effects of lifetime parole on Suave and comforts him through some tough disappointments. And Suave ponders what it truly means to be free. Please note that this episode contains a brief description of violence and sexual abuse. You can avoid it by skipping between 4:45-6:45.
Comments (4)

Rachael Scott

I didn't want to criticize because I'm loving this so far. I do want to know (and maybe they get to it later in the podcast) if Maria has considered how her role as executive producer shapes the narrative. Would the story be told differently if a different team of journalists put it together? How objective can they be with the boss a central "character"?

Mar 12th
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sub60

Too dramatic, definitely crossed the journalism/friend line on this episode.

Mar 2nd
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Akiba Sleuth

This looks promising subscribed

Feb 19th
Reply (1)
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