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Cameraman with Movie Camera

Juvenile Justice in Context

The story of Keith Hicks

History of Documentary:

1994 - Keith Hicks participates in a gang-related homicide.  He is 17 years old.

1996 - Keith is sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole

2012 - Supreme Court declares Juvenile Life Sentences w/o Parole (JLWOP) unconstitutional. Keith is entitled to a resentencing hearing (after another ruling in 2016 that made the 2012 decision retroactive)

2016 - PlaceLab (PL) and Dr. Eva Simms, in response to a request from the community, begin making the documentary

2017-2019 - Christian Nowlin, a film maker whose younger brother was friends with Keith, joined PL and set about creating the documentary as it currently stands

2020 - The Elsinore-Bennu Think Tank for Restorative Justice (EBTT) begins working with the issues brought up in the documentary

"I believe that juvenile justice must start before the arrest and adjudication of a child. My personal experience with life and the system at a young age drives this feeling for me. When my grandfather went to federal prison and my grandmother passed away two months later due to suicide, I was forced to become a man and take on adult responsibilities at the young age of 14. These circumstances I experienced, that were out of my control, lead me to choose a life in the drug trade in order to provide for my family. This path lead me to be arrested and landed me in the juvenile justice system. Our current system only offers help post-involvement in the juvenile justice system and not before involvement occurs. I only knew what I knew and that was given to me by the environment I grew up in. Our children are the future and it's time the system sees it that way. Adversity a child is dealing with in their life should be considered. Assistance, programming and guidance should be provided as an alternative to adjudication and incarceration if we truly want to stop the transition from child to adult criminal in our society."


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