They Call Us Monsters movie poster


Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab and Roosevelt House Director Harold Holzer cordially invite you to join Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Founding Chair of The New York State Mentoring Program, First Lady of New York (1982-1995); Mitchell J. Auslander, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP; and Maria Cuomo Cole, documentary film producer and Chairman, HELP USA to a Roosevelt House screening of They Call Us Monsters, directed by Ben Lear, produced by Gabriel Cowan, Sasha Alpert and Ben Lear for PBS Independent Lens and Netflix. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Mr. Lear and Mr. Auslander.

“To their advocates, they’re kids. To the system, they’re criminals. To their victims, they’re monsters.”  So declares the provocative introduction to a documentary offering a highly original look at the current debate over juvenile incarceration.

For more than a generation, many states have treated violent juvenile offenders as adults, in some cases handing down sentences that effectively end their lives, or multiply the likelihood of recidivism. Now a national movement is urging legislatures to re-examine this policy, part of a broader re-assessment of criminal justice and mass incarceration.

Revealing the human face behind the juvenile justice debate, this film goes behind the scenes at The Compound, a high-security detention facility in California, where three young men—Jarad, Juan, and Antonio—await trial in cases that carry sentences of up to 200 years. But first they become “screenwriters” to try documenting their own disturbing life stories for this film. The results invite viewers to re-examine the concept of life without parole for juvenile offenders. The discussion that follows proposes mentoring as both a preventive mechanism and an alternative.

Ben Lear’s directing credits include the documentary The Ordinary World (2017), and the short subject Bad for the Boats. He is also an actor and composer. A graduate of NYU, Lear works at mentoring juveniles re-entering society after incarceration. Mitchell J. Auslander is a partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP who has been recognized by “Best Lawyers in America” for his work in commercial litigation and insurance. He has long been active in the New York State Mentoring Program and is a member of its Advisory Council.

Film Screening – They Call Us Monsters | Posted on November 30th, 2018 | Film Screenings, Public Programs