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12 Year Old Lifer: True Stories

12 Year Old Lifer: True Stories

Thu May 2, 10-11.15pm, C4

By Phil Harrison
Why would a 15-year-old boy and his 12-year-old friend murder a grown man? In search of answers, this documentary has gained access to all the main players in this desperately sad case. There’s Colt Lundy, the teenage instigator. His accomplice Paul Gingerich. The parents and siblings of the two boys. And the family of Philip Danner, Colt’s stepfather and the victim of the crime.

Seeing these lads, with their acne and their bumfluff, pondering a life behind bars, is heartbreaking. And numerous questions are raised about the absurdity of various aspects of the US justice system. And yet the fact remains. These kids killed a man and what the film fails to achieve is any really profound insight into the unique pathology of very young children who commit serious crimes.

It goes without saying that the gun laws aren’t examined either (despite the origins of Colt’s name), but then no one really expects Americans to make a sane, rational connection between gun possession and gun violence any more, do they? Interesting and thought provoking, but something of a missed opportunity.

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