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Next on POV: 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story

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Watch the trailer: 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story premieres Monday, August 4, 2014, at 10 PM on PBS stations. (Check local listings.)

“Social-justice documentaries aren’t always as engaging as you’d like them to be — they can be preachy, decidedly one-sided or two-dimensional. Not so for this little gem. … It does a fine job of using one very human story to make a larger point about the criminal justice system.” — Erin Sullivan, Orlando Weekly

Does sentencing a teenager to life without parole serve our society well? The United States is the only country in the world that routinely condemns children to die in prison. This is the story of one of those children, now a young man, seeking a second chance in Florida. At age 15, Kenneth Young received four consecutive life sentences for a series of armed robberies. Imprisoned for more than a decade, he believed he would die behind bars. Now a U.S. Supreme Court decision could set him free. 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story follows Young’s struggle for redemption, revealing a justice system with thousands of young people serving sentences intended for society’s most dangerous criminals.

“I was shocked to learn that kids as young as 12 years old are being sentenced to die in prison,” says 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza. “When children commit crimes, should rehabilitation take precedence over punishment? Can children be ruled to be adults, based on a single action? Can children who commit violent acts be rehabilitated? By focusing on Kenneth’s story, I set out to find answers.”

After the broadcast, visit the 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story companion site to watch the full film online for free for a limited time following the broadcast, learn from the filmmaker in an extended video interview, find out what’s happened in Kenneth’s case since the cameras stopped rolling, view a timeline of Kenneth’s case and explore the court rulings that have affected young people like him, download a discussion guide and other viewing resources, and ask filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza and other juvenile justice experts your questions live on Tuesday, August 5, 2014, (the day after broadcast) live on Google+ from 2-3 PM ET (11 AM-12 PM PT).

For updates on POV’s 2014 season, subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs.

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.
  • paul

    one could telll the judge could care less, all he cared about would would keep voters happy. judge appeared to lack a spine

    • Laraine Rene Strom

      Unfortunately I so agree with you!! I wonder if it were the Judges child / grandchild that was charged if he would come to the same conclusion!

  • Laraine Rene Strom

    I feel like this was a well documented portrayal of our systems senseless criminal justice practices. How on earth can a 14 year old boy be sentenced as he was / is? People that kill their children get off Free!! Child molesters get away with years and years of law breaking… Kenneth belonged in a juvenile detention home for a number of years, and then offered the chance to prove himself rehabilitated. We are wasting money on incarcerating Kenneth!! Someone needs to do something about this travesty. Thank God for people like you bringing such attention to matters like Kenneths. I will hope and pray that Kenneth gets released, and can experience the wonders of life as an adult in a practical healthy manor.

  • NLF

    The issue should be the Judge. His demeanor clearly shows the obvious outcome. Why was this not commented on?. The trial should be shifted to another county. This sentencing is like America in the 1700′s. The Judge should be put on Trial.

  • Olivia

    Ok, so what’s next? Let’s do something about it – not only for this young man – but for all of our youth. These issues are complicated, but where a minor, a child – does a crime where no one is hurt or murdered, he/she needs to be dealt with justly. What will help? A petition, letters to our congressmen, PR. There are so many petitions that may help individuals – which is great – but we all need to make time to address the larger issues that concern these senseless laws that have been cemented.

  • sister joy

    What did kenneth do to get 15 to life? I missed the first part.