Florida's juvenile lifers spotlighted on PBS' POV

click to enlarge A child appears in Pinellas County Juvenile Court. Before 2010, he could have served life without parole for a nonviolent crime. - Credit: Hitplay Productions
Credit: Hitplay Productions
A child appears in Pinellas County Juvenile Court. Before 2010, he could have served life without parole for a nonviolent crime.

Partly thanks to the still-smoldering fallout of the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 1990s, there are more than 2,500 juveniles serving life sentences in the United States, many of them after being tried as adults. But in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Graham v. Florida that life sentences for juveniles for crimes other than murder were unconstitutional. That made 77 Florida inmates eligible for early release.

Among those is Kenneth Young, who was coerced into participating in a series of armed robberies starting when he was only 14, and served 10 years of four consecutive life sentences before the Supreme Court decision. PBS's POV documentary series turns its focus on Kenneth, and on Florida's system, this week in "15 to Life: Kenneth's Story."  The documentary chronicles Kenneth's attempt to gain his freedom, with the help of many within and outside the criminal justice system, but against the opposition of some of his victims.

Florida residents owe it to themselves, and to some of our state's most vulnerable, to see what their tax dollars and legislators hath wrought.

The program can be stream on POV’s website through Sept. 4.

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