State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith review – beaten by the system

By Romey Norton
Published: November 10, 2022 (Last updated: November 17, 2022)


A cry for help and a demand for better support for victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. A short watch that packs a powerful punch.

We review the Netflix documentary film State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith, which was released on November 10, 2022.

True crime documentary fans get ready to stream the harrowing story of a woman trying to use Alabama’s Stand Your Ground law after killing a man she says brutally attacked her. State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith is short (only 40 minutes long) but packs a punch as we follow Brittany Smith’s story. The documentary is produced by Tripod Media which is previously known for its major Netflix documentary The Keepers, released in May 2017. Ryan White, who directed The Keepers, returns to direct this documentary too.

Brittany Smith was attacked and raped in her home by a man she knew called Todd Smith. Brittany was then held hostage, and when her brother Chris McCallie fought Todd off and they engaged in a serious fight, Brittany shot Todd, killing him. 

Todd Smith had a huge track record of arrests which included domestic violence and assault. However, the Judge denied the hearing, and Brittany then faced life in prison. Brittany took a plea deal, which was 6 months in prison for murder — she would have gotten a lot longer for second-degree murder, which makes no sense. Other than that, this was a spiteful way to get a murder conviction.

Brittany wasn’t perfect, by any means, a mother with a previous history of drug abuse. She also lied to the police and said her brother shot Todd, which tarnished her reputation for the judge on the case. However, in a State where women don’t have equality and aren’t treated fairly, can you blame her for lying? Surely in cases like this, society has to be taken into account as they are building and setting these people up for failure. It’s not surprising that people have been rallying behind Brittany, sharing their stories, and offering support. While someone was killed here, it’s pretty clear it was in self-defense, and the support for women is not there.

We’re given first-hand interviews with Brittany, her family, the family of Todd, and victim advocates, who all give their accounts of what happened and their opinions on the justice system. The filming style is handheld with a mix of fly on the wall. We also get footage from the police body cam the night of the murder and original audio from her distressed 911 call. All this information can lead you to your own decisions on what happened and what you agree with.

The reality is that each year countless women are imprisoned for killing their rapists or abusers. This documentary examines many issues, including ones of gender, domestic and sexual violence, and the failures of our criminal justice system, especially in Alabama. This documentary is a cry for help in changing society and the State’s view on women. Women in this state in the US are treated as secondary citizens, they’re beaten by men and then beaten by the system. There is a huge problem with how they view and treat sexual violence and domestic abuse. The Stand Your Ground law is a self-defense law that is mostly used by men, and in this case, it’s forcing us to see how this law can be used to help women who are acting in self-defense. Hopefully, this little but powerful documentary can share some light on what women are going through and help demand a change for a better future. 

What did you think of the Netflix documentary film State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith? Comment below.

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