USA: Locking Up Children

It’s the only nation in the world that has not signed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child: the United States. Signing would mean relaxing legislation on the confinement of minors. Indeed, several American states still sentence minors to years, sometimes even life, in prison. The situation is worse than ever before: 70,000 minors are currently in American prisons, some in juvenile prisons, others in adult centres.

To protect them from their fellow inmates, the prison administration often keeps them in isolation for months or even years. Several cases are particularly disturbing, such as that of Khalief Browder, accused of stealing a backpack. He committed suicide after finally being released after 2 years in pre-trial detention. Our reporter gained access inside some such ‘juvies’, and met with minors in the system. In Utah, the authorities are rethinking the conditions of detaining minors. In Texas, on the other hand, the principle is simple: major crime, major penalty. No excuses.

This film reveals why so many minors end up behind bars, the main reason being the judicialization of society. Even in schools, police officers — not supervisors — now patrol the hallways. As a result, school-based misconduct has become a crime, sending students straight into the criminal system.


  • Year: 2019
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Nova Prod
  • Director: Esther Goldmann
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France


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