Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Me Facing Life

Would you believe that it was only in 2005 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled out the death penalty for juveniles?  Until then, kids could be sentenced to death for crimes they committed.

However, no such law has been established when it comes to life sentences.  There are thousands of kids in the U.S. who have been given the infamous LWOP sentence: life without parole.  Kids as young as 14 have been sentenced to prison until their natural deaths, without any chance for parole.

This evening, I went to the San Francisco Main Public Library to see a screening of a new documentary called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia's Story.


from

It was an incredibly compelling account of Cyntoia Brown, a Tennessee girl who, frankly, was never dealt a fair hand.  Her mother gave birth to her at age 16, and confesses that she drank heavily every day while she was pregnant.  After Cyntoia was born, her mother began using crack cocaine and prostituting, resulting in danger & instability for Cyntoia.  According to psychologists, ages 0-3 are crucial when it comes to forming attachment, trust, decision-making, etc.  

Cyntoia was eventually adopted by a friend of the family, but was sexually abused, repeatedly, starting at age 7.  It comes as no surprise that by her early teens, she was doing drugs and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

One night, having escaped her violent pimp, Cyntoia walked to a local gas station, where she was picked up by a 43 year old man looking for sex.  He took her back to his place and showed her several of his guns, and after he grabbed her forcefully, she shot and killed him.

Cyntoia, at the hearing to determine whether she would be tried as an adult

In the end, she was tried in adult court, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison.  Producer/Director Daniel Birman explores issues of biology, abuse, and social factors as they pertain to crime and sentencing.  

I urge you to watch the trailer here, and try to catch the documentary when it airs on PBS!

20 comments:

Summer {athena in the middle} said...

chills. that is all i have to say. all over my body.

MCW said...

Wow. Will have to figure out when this is playing.

Ashley said...

What a story! Its sad to think this is someone's life story. I'll def have to watch that special. Thank you for sharing!

Katy Mary said...

wow. I had no idea. what a terrible life she has had.

starnes family said...

Unbelievable. So hard to understand what people do to children.

drollgirl said...

well this is just heartbreaking. i am at a loss for words. this poor girl never even had a fair shake at life. not even close.

Kimbirdy said...

this is so enraging! and it happens all. the. time. so many of my kids at civic center secondary school had been in jail for things that were simply their way of fighting against the injustices against them. and they were punished for it. i see it as the same thing as self-defense. but in our culture emotional/psychological health is not valued. defending your emotional well being is seen as a crime, and kids fall deeper into despair without anyone to help them. i'm so glad you work hard to give these kids a voice, whether they know it or not, and educate all the nice clean cupcake-loving blogger girls what the world is really like. thank you!!

Faiza said...

so unbelievably fair. will definitely keep an eye out for this. thanks for teaching me something new today.

Meghan said...

Oh my gosh. What a heartbreaking story. I would love to see the documentary!

erin elder said...

This is so heartbreaking... i want to see this documentary now!
it is unbelievable how something like this could happen to a child. truly unfair.

Thank you for sharing this, otherwise i may have never known about it.

Micaela said...

I MUST SEE THIS!!! as you know, this kind of stuff is so sad/interesting/and so little is said to make it more personal.... remember when we met and i asked your opinion on something i thought i already had my mind made up about?

i want to see this documentary now! (btw, the "solitary confinement" one was good)

i wish we could see this together.

ps. i had NO IDEA about the death penalty regarding kids. crazy!

Tiffany said...

When I was in law school we had a whole section of our criminal law book devoted to this issue and I remember crying as I read it in the library. People think that because the death penalty is off the table for kids, the issue is moot now. But being sentenced to "life" in prison is really being sentenced to death in prison. Such a sad issue. Thank you for sharing and drawing attention to it!

~Tiffany
http://tiffanyd22.blogspot.com

this free bird said...

this makes me sick to my stomach. this is an ideal example of the need for reform. horrible.

Kristin W said...

Oooo! HAVE to see this! I hope I can find it online somewhere (no cable as of now). As a former social worker..I just love documentaries, memoirs, etc. etc. etc.

Thanks for sharing!

orsoifeel said...

This story just makes me sick. How is our justice system so ignorant. If only more people educated themselves by research or by watch films like this...

orsoifeel said...

*watching* urgh!

AmericanBridget (Jones) said...

I love, love, love documentaries. Thank you for introducing me (us) to this. It's a MUST SEE. Thank you Ebert.

bklyn76 said...

heartbreaking.

Lexi said...

This is such an important story. Thank you for sharing!

xox
Lexi @ http://glitterandpearls.com

Katie said...

What an amazing documentary!! As a social worker, and someone who interned as a juvenile parole officer, I can say there needs to be more documentaries like this. Well I guess I should say they should be getting more publicity. Thanks for sharing!