Since rehabilitation programs continue to be underfunded, the recidivism rate isn’t likely to go down. This reality recalls a moment from the beginning of the film when the boys are taking Cowan on a tour of the facilities at Sylmar, clean but stark if decorated with names of NFL teams. I also feel that whatever message the director was going for was muddled. Despite several attempts, Lear could not be reached for comment for this article. Emily Jordan is a YA writer living in New York City. Juan mostly appears contemplative, or maybe just catatonic. In fact, since the human brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25, teens are less likely to understand risk and consequences, less able to resist peer pressure, which is relevant in deciding the level of sentence to impose for a crime one commits at, say, 15. with lengthy sentences, regardless of the fact that, as adolescents, they have no ability to see beyond the orbit of their own experience. “If they hadn’t wanted to write a love story, there wouldn’t be this film, but they decided to write a film, their film, about a young boy falling in love, when they could have written about violence or gangs. All rights reserved. [4], "Meet the 'Monsters:' Documentary Looks at California Juvenile Debate", "Review: 'They Call Us Monsters,' but Do We Deserve Life Sentences? 5 Heartbreaking Facts From ‘They Call Us Monsters’ Doc on Latino Teens Facing Life in Jail. Grappling with tough questions about what it means to convict a young teenager to a lifetime in prison without diminishing or excusing the violent crimes which these kids are accused of, They Call Us Monsters is a loud plea for our need to rethink how we understand the American justice system. It establishes a parole process with different criteria.”. He attended the Compound as part of InsideOUT Writers, an organization that uses creative writing programs as a way to aid in the rehabilitation of prison inmates. Reproduction of material from any Salon pages without written permission is strictly prohibited. These are young men who will be tried as adults for violent crimes and face decades, if not hundreds of years in adult jails. An Ontario-based lawyer said her depiction in a documentary now screening on Netflix, focusing on three teens tried as adults — including a Pomona teen who was sentenced for 162 years for attempted murder — was patently unfair and has prompted a deluge of hate mail. That say’s a lot.”. “I’m a believer in the parole process,” Lear says. “I really thought I made a connection with Ben Lear. She believes the scenes where she is declining to question witnesses came from the tail end of previous questioning, when the judge asked her if she had any more questions and she said, “No questions.”, Hoover advertises as a DUI attorney and represented Nava’s mother, Susette Hirschoff, during her divorce with Nava’s step-father, Freddy Nava, both of whom appear in “They Call Us Monsters.”. Jarad Nava had a horrible, unprepared, insecure lawyer who specialized in DUIs, not attempted murder defenses. TALKING" while everyone blathers on regardless. Over the course of the two years that Lear (son of TV writer and producer Norman Lear) spent filming “They Call Us Monsters,” SB 260, the juvenile parole bill, went into effect in California. Directed by Ben Lear. [1] The teenagers participate in a screenwriting class at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, California with producer Gabriel Cowan. Basically, rehabilitation programs fail because even if the juveniles want to change they go back to their harmful environments where they have to deal with their parents being evicted, and they have to deal with becoming teenage dad's and not having jobs, and they have to deal with rival gangs still wanting to get at them even if they want to leave the gang life. Legislators debate legislation that allows for adult charges for juvenile offenders. Society must remove them to safeguard public safety, that's what a modern society does. When the new law went into effect in January of 2014, it established a new parole process to be enacted on either the 15th, 20th or 25th year of incarceration, depending on the sentence or controlling offense for people who were under the age of 18 when they committed a crime and who had been tried and sentenced as adults. Jarad, who will be eligible for parole in 2037, wrote in a letter to PBS that he’s “chosen to leave the criminal lifestyle in my past and serve my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Juan is eligible for parole in 2027. Juan tells Cowan and his classmates how he was going to give the real Abby a poem but he never got the chance. This probably could have been condensed into an hour, but that could be said for most films. All three boys have children. Some of their parents are at least partially blame as well! The focus of InsideOUT is usually poetry and prose (alumni participate in group gatherings called Writing Circles, where young people come together to share their work and talk). His face during this moment, the flicker of anguish and regret, is full of pathos. You have to love it out of them,” Cowan says. You may very well be kick ass when it comes to DUI cases, but you were in over your head for that murder case” (via email). Not just in the throes of puberty and adolescence but of self-discovery and coming of age.”. Hoover said she started to receive hate messages via email, Twitter and Facebook about two weeks ago. Then she watched it. Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2017. The Nava family had hired her right before the trial and she only had a weekend to read about 4,000 pages of documents. Cowan, who also happens to be one of the film’s producers, is the first person to teach a screenwriting class with InsideOUT Writers, a non-profit organization whose mission is both to use creative writing as a catalyst for personal transformation and to reduce the juvenile recidivism rate by providing services for formerly incarcerated youth. From left, Antonio Hernandez, Jared Nava and Juan Gamez, the subjects of the documentary ‘They Call Us Monsters.” Hernandez was part of the panel and showing put together by Project Rebound on Monday. As any parent, teacher or person who has worked with teens will tell you, teenagers are impulsive. Juan Gamez has close-cropped, black hair and a baby face that remains expressionless except when he smiles. The protagonist of “Los” emanates vulnerability where the boys act tough and make jokes as a form of self-protection. UPDATE 6/29/2017: They Call Us Monsters is now streaming on Netflix. As a 16-year-old boy facing 90 years to life for first-degree murder, he seems to float somewhere above or below this fact, as do Antonio Hernandez and Jarad Nava, the other teenage boys awaiting similar sentences in Ben Lear’s moving documentary, “They Call Us Monsters,” a film that connects a 20-week screenwriting class inside Sylmar, a segregated unit for juveniles being tried as adults, with the passing of SB 260, legislation that grants youth serving life sentences the possibility of parole. We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. Sasha Alpert, BMP Films. Arrested at 16, Jarad faces 200 years-to-life for four attempted murders; Juan, also arrested at 16, faces 90-to-life for first-degree murder; Antonio was arrested at 14 and faces 90-to-life for two attempted murders. All three face charges of attempted (or, in Juan’s case, first degree) murder. These are perfect examples of the way the justice system has decided to treat young men who commit violent crimes as adults. Juan, Jarad and Antonio, all young teens, face decades in prison. We will keep you informed without bombarding you! But, she said, she has tried at least 25 trials involving serious crimes and worked for a time with an attorney who specialized in sex crimes cases. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. that, according to Budnick, Cowan, Lear and other prison-reform policy advocates, differentiates the young person from the adult. Woman walking on a San Bernardino street struck, killed by vehicle that fled, First Disneyland coronavirus masks now available at Downtown Disney, Bingo will return to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, The Aquabats will livestream its ‘Kooky Spooky! As Lear describes it, nothing could have prepared him for what he encountered once he walked into the prison: this was a “classroom full of kids —these were teenagers that are so obviously that age. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness. As They Call Us Monsters hopes to broaden the conversation on juvenile offenders, here are five eye-opening facts we learned from watching Lear’s documentary. The film follows three juveniles: Juan Gamez, Antonio Hernandez and Jarad Nava. Cowan conceptualized the idea to teach screenwriting and then produce and shoot a movie from the script the kids wrote. It breaks my heart to see these kids being locked up in prison! Look at their home life and background, they never had much of a chance to begin with! In other words, Lear does not gloss over what Jarad actually did to end up at Sylmar, yet the film questions both his draconian punishment and the way the system continually punishes low-income, mostly African-American and Latinx kids with lengthy sentences, regardless of the fact that, as adolescents, they have no ability to see beyond the orbit of their own experience. In what is then the pinnacle moment of the documentary, Juan watches from the sidelines as actors brought in by Cowan enact a scene from his own life as he wishes it had actually transpired. It humanizes these young men but also brings accountability into effect. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC.

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