"Are you the same person that you were at age 14?" one of Kenneth Young's lawyers asks in 15 to Life, a documentary challenging the ethics of sentencing kids to life in prison—a routine punishment only in America. Filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza follows Young, charged with four armed robberies as a teen, as he seeks release in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court decision limiting juvenile life sentences to kids convicted of murder. She weaves interviews with Young and his family, lawyers, and crime victims together with harrowing photographs of youthful inmates to depict a justice system that only perpetuates the sort of violence it was intended to keep in check.
This review originally appeared in the July/August 2014 Issue of Mother Jones.