Kenneth Young at his resentencing hearing, with his mother and niece in the background.

‘15 to Life’ Chronicles Quest for Release of Man Sentenced to Life at Age 15

A riveting new PBS documentary, "15 to Life: Kenneth's Story," traces one young man's quest for release from prison after he was sentenced to four consecutive life terms without parole. JJIE speaks with the documentary's director, Nadine Pequeneza, about the making of the film, Kenneth Young's case and how his experience is emblematic of a juvenile justice system struggling to find a balance among rehabilitation, modern behavioral science and the United States' "tough-on-crime" culture. Young is just one of the more than 2,500 people convicted as a juvenile that are now serving life sentences in the United States.

Evidence-based Practices at the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub

The Skinny on Evidence-Based Practices

Social scientist Robert Martinson famously concluded in 1974 that “nothing works” to change the behavior of people encountering the justice system. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then. Policymakers and system stakeholders now have an ever-growing set of policies, practices and programs that help youth in trouble with the law change their behavior and make communities safer. And far-sighted policymakers have invested heavily in evidence-based practices in a number of states. Examples include Connecticut and Nebraska (where advocates like the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance and Voices for Children in Nebraska, along with their allies, played a role in the adoption of evidence-based practices).