26 Monsters, How They Call Us – Ben Lear on His Film Debut

Ben Lear talks about his documentary film, They Call Us Monsters, which follows three Hispanic teenagers, Jarad, Juan and Antonio, incarcerated in The Compound, the high-security facility in the middle of Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in California’s Los Angeles County, as they themselves create a screenplay for a short film under the guidance of film-director teacher, Gabriel Cowan.

We examine the historical criminal justice context in which California has passed a number of forward-thinking juvenile justice bills over the past five years, bills which will have a significant impact on the trajectory of the three boys’ cases. During filming, California Senate Bill 260 was debated, and passed, creating a parole process that takes into account the age of juvenile offenders convicted in adult court, and granting a chance at parole after 15-25 years.

Finally, Ben updates us on how Jarad, Juan, Antonio and their families are doing, three years after the boys were convicted for their crimes, and describes how Juan’s little sister has been inspired by the family tragedy to become an advocate and spokesperson for juvenile justice.

Intro / Outro: Jeffrey Deskovic

Music: Chameleon Catholics – Where’s Cush?; It’s Like Trying to Speak Swahili with Gandhi

 

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