THEY CALL US MONSTERS, a documentary that follows three juvenile offenders, is explored with director Ben Lear. We look at the stories of Jarad, Juan and Antonio, who are residing in the Compound, a juvenile facility in Los Angeles, and being tried as adults. Finally, we look at some of the questions the film raises about the American justice system and how it treats young offenders, in this uncensored episode of BYOD hosted by Ondi Timoner.
THEY CALL US MONSTERS
In California, violent juveniles between 14-17 years old can be tried as adults. Typically, they are accused of heinous crimes—murders and attempted murders—that leave their victims’ families shattered. And yet, they are still kids, with a greater capacity to change and one day return to society. What is our responsibility to these kids? And to their victims? Do they deserve a second chance? These are the questions legislators are grappling with across the country as they attempt to reform our juvenile justice system. Meanwhile, behind the walls of the Compound, three violent juvenile offenders are writing a movie as they await their trials. It’s the story of their childhoods with the ending rewritten.
BENJAMIN LEAR – PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
Ben Lear graduated from NYU in 2010 with a degree in music composition. As his senior recital,Lear wrote and performed his folk-opera, Lillian, about a man, who travels to the great pacificgarbage patch to reclaim all he’s lost, with a 20-piece orchestra and light show. Upon thealbum’s release, he partnered with Plastic Pollution Coalition and 5Gyres to raise awareness forplastic pollution. This work has led Lear to performances at TED and the UN. As a result of shooting this film, Ben sits on the advisory board of InsideOUT Writers and is an ally member within the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, teaching a weekly writing class within the Compound and mentoring former juvenile offenders upon reentry.