“How much punishment is enough?” Lawyer
Being tough on crime has become a popular mantra for political parties. Law and order debates are frequently fuelled by tabloid headlines calling for a crackdown on crime. The result is often harsher sentencing. In the United States it’s led to thousands of prisoners facing mandatory life sentences for crimes they committed as teenagers.
“A super-predator is a young juvenile criminal who is so impulsive, so remorseless that he can kill, rape, maim without giving it a second thought.” Forensic psychologist
Now there’s debate over whether these prisoners should be given a second chance at life.
“To say to any child of 13 that you’re only fit to die in prison is cruel.” US Lawyer
In this compelling documentary, the film makers follow the cases of two of these now adult prisoners who expected to spend their entire lives behind bars.
“I was a bad kid. I was an angry kid. But I don’t think I was so to the point where OK now you’re going to be a kid that dies in prison.” Prisoner
With exclusive access, the film closely documents their legal bid for freedom following a landmark court case.
“I’ve changed and I’m not the same individual. But I feel ashamed of what I did.” Prisoner
We witness the confrontation between the perpetrators, guilty of murder, and the families of their victims in emotionally charged parole hearings.
“He was my only son and I’ll never forgive him, ever!” Victim’s mother
As juvenile offenders across the US await their potential re-sentencing, Second Chance Kids asks tough questions about crime and punishment.
“There are some people who should never be released…there are some crimes, in my opinion, that are so deleterious to our community that individuals deserve to go to jail for life.” Prosecutor
For the two prisoners, their chance of a new life presents them with the challenge of how to live after decades behind bars.
Second Chance Kids, from PBS Frontline and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 25th June at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 26th June at 1.00pm and Wednesday 27th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.