New Documentary `Lost For Life`: Stories of Juvenile Sentenced To Life In Prison

jakob 5177VC0K93L Photo above: YouTube

‘Lost For Life’: The Stories of Juveniles Sentenced To Life In Prison

By Laura Cañupan | First Posted: Jul 04, 2013 11:02 AM EDT

Shot with low-cost video cameras and an iPhone, “Lost For Life,” a documentary about an American juvenile offenders sentenced to life imprisonment without  , premiered at the American Film Institute’s AFI Docs Festival 2013.

Lost For Life Trailer: via @YouTube VIDEO

Filmmaker Joshua Rofe got the idea when he met a judge from Florida at a friend’s party.

“He was clearly confliLost For Life   about putting a 15-year-old killer of a taxi driver behind bars forever,” Rofe told AFP. “The girl that he sentenced to life without parole had the same name as his daughter. She was about the same age, and he said he often wondered if there was a better option,” he said.

“Lost for Life” takes viewers into some of America’s toughest prisons to hear inmates discuss the crimes they committed when they were minors and to consider if they should at least be entitled to apply for parole.

“I wanted people to basically have the experience that I had when I first heard about juvenile life without parole,” Rofe told AFP.

At 15, Jacob Ind got the idea of killing his mother and stepfather from a friend who came over to his Colorado house one day and remarked how his mom was such a “bitch.”

Torey Adamcik and Brian Draper, both 16 at the time, stabbed and killed their high school classmate Cassie Jo Stoddart in small-town Idaho in 2006, inspired by the horror movie “Scream” directed by Wes Craven.

“There are undoubtedly people who committed murder when they were 15 years old who will never be fit to walk among us,”, expressed Rofe. “And there are undoubtedly people who committed murder when they were 15 years old who, let’s say for argument’s sake, after 20 or 25 years (behind bars), deserve a shot before a parole board,” he added.

The oldest juvenile lifer Rofe encountered in his research has been in prison since 1953 for a murder he committed at the age of 15. “I have to ask, what harm is an 80 year old man going to cause if he were to experience the last few years (of his life) living in his lawyer’s house if he was to be released?” wondered Rofe.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 that mandatory life without parole for a minor convicted of murder — the law in 29 states at the time — was a form of “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

However, the high court affirmed that judges have the option to impose the harshest possible sentence short of execution on youths—a sentence now being served by 2,570 “juvenile lifers,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.


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