Young Kids, Hard Time takes a look at the reality of children who are serving long sentences in adult prisons. It estimated that over 250,000 kids are tried, sentenced as adults each year in the United States. In twenty-two US states, children who commit crimes can be prosecuted and tried in adult court.
Watch as this film takes us inside the Youth Incarcerated As Adults (YIA) cell-block the maximum security Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana, to reveal the harsh reality of life behind bars for kids as young as twelve years old. The cell-block houses 53 children who get to rarely leave the unit for their own protection from the adult prisoners just outside their door. But it doesn’t last long, once a youth has turned 18, he or she is transferred to the general population, where thousands of adult prisoners await.
The documentary also takes a look at post-conviction life for the kids who have spent decades behind bars, illuminating the effects of sentencing kids to the adult prison system, and whether or not this practice leads to a safer society. Film producers speak with children between 12 and 17 who have been sentenced up to 35 years behind bars, looking at the lack of services the kids are getting compared with rehabilitative services offered to kids who are kept in the juvenile system.
According to the Department of Justice, America’s juvenile justice system is better-prepared to deal with youth offenders than the adult prison system, which offers few opportunities for counselling and rehabilitation.