Ofra Bikel's latest documentary looks at five of the 45 prisoners in Colorado who are serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were juveniles.
Bikel's has done a series of documentaries on the criminal justie system for Frontline. Some of them have helped innocent people be freed from prison.
It becomes clear that some of the inmates in When Kids Get Life should never have gone to jail and others should not spend the rest of their lives in jail.
Colorado once had one of the most progressive juvenile justice systems. Jeffrey Fagan is interviewed about it. But, in the early 90s like many states, they changed the law to allow for juveniles to be tried as adults and sent to prison for life without parole. And the choice was left to the prosecutor, not the judge.
In 2006, Colorado became the first state to change from life to being eligable for parole after 40 years. But a compromise to pass the bill over the objections of district attorneys and the families of murder victims dropped a provision to make it retroactive.
It is also clear that there was physical and/or sexual abuse in many of the cases. There needs to be more resources put into child abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Originally posted on tigerbeat.vox.com