Told from two perspectives, this documentary, directed by Joshua Rofe (The Gray In Between), attempts to pull back the curtain on juvenile cons who are lifers and the families of their victims. Revealing, but not always an easy watch. Multiple times you are going to find yourself shaking your head over the waste of life here – criminal and victim.
In the beginning of the film we learn that in 2014 in the United States that more than 2,500 individuals are serving life without parole sentences for crimes they committed when they were 17-years-old or younger. Some as young as 13 are among the thousands serving these sentences. Shocking. Sad. Waste. Lost for Life (the perfect title) interviews some of those inmates and the families of the people they killed.
Nothing “fancy” or out of the ordinary occurs during the storytelling here. It is all done in a rather expected and straightforward manner. We see that some show remorse for what they have done while others are straight up psychopaths. Should they get a second chance due to the young age they committed their crimes? Should we just lock them up and throw away the key? Is rehabilitation possible in these cases? These are the primary questions asked by Rofe’s film.
Best to go into this with an open mind or else it is a waste of time. Some of these criminals endured so much trauma as kids that it is not surprising that they did what they did. Who is to blame for that? And should those circumstances be taken into account? Can we fix these broken kids? Should we even try? Especially if they show remorse and understanding of what they have done.
The variety of criminals here show us there is no one answer. Or way to handle them. Can the American court, justice and prison system be/do better? Plenty of questions asked here with precious few easy answers.
Originally released in 2014, this 74 minute documentary is available to stream on Snagfilms.