90: Kids Doing Life

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When you’re sixteen or seventeen do you really think about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with? Sometimes, sure. But not all the time. There’s science to show that teens don’t think like adults. Their brains aren’t fully developed. That means two things. First that they don’t have the same ability as an adult to consider the consequences of their actions, and second, that in time, when their brain does become fully developed, they can be rehabilitated.
For these and many reasons, the US Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that teens can’t be sentenced to death and they can’t be given an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole. But what does that mean? How long can a state send a teen to prison before they have a chance at parole?

If you break the law and are sent to prison as a teen, how long do we wait to give you another chance? This week on Life of the Law, reporter Brenda Salinas tells us Ashley Ervin's story.


Kids Doing Life was reported by Brenda Salinas and edited by Jess Engebretson with sound design and production from Shani Aviram. 

We want to thank Rachael Cain, our summer intern, and Megan Flynn, Beth Schwartzapfel, and Terry Langford for their reporting and help with production. Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle is our Post Production Editor. Howard Gelman is our engineer.