Juvenile: Five Stories

Five young people from across the country face their traumas and seek healing after their justice system experiences.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
57 mins
Closed captioning available


Driven by the personal stories of five youth who were justice-involved as teens, Juvenile: Five Stories traces their pathways into the system, their journeys of trauma and healing, and their lessons for how to break and remake the juvenile system.


Shimaine, Ja'Vaune, Romeo, Ariel and Michael are all from different backgrounds and parts of the country, and each had a different pathway into the system: foster care, sexual abuse, violence, homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse. But as their individual narratives unfold in the film, a cohesive narrative emerges of the broken promises of our juvenile system across all American communities.

Juvenile: Five Stories challenges viewers to recognize what the juvenile system does to young people, and how young people who’ve survived those systems are best situated to make restorative contributions to communities that are struggling to shift from cages to care. This film received Evident Change’s 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes "profound insight into the realities of our nation's social systems and the way they impact people and communities." https://evidentchange.org/media-just-society-awards/2023-distinguished-achievement-award/

Director Commentary

We made this film because we were systems-impacted as young people growing up in Memphis. As white girls, we benefited from diversion, avoiding the stigma of “juvenile” and the trauma of racism. As directors, we wanted to shine a light on how insidiously common the experience of systemic trauma is among America’s youth - and how racial disparities thrive in these systems, even as waves of reform have shrunk the number of youth who are incarcerated nationally. As collaborators, we shaped this narrative with fellow creatives who came from families and communities who were more deeply impacted by these issues than we were.

We’ve all been kids, but not all of us have experienced system trauma. Our film draws viewers into that unique headspace, provoking outrage and empathy without lapsing into trauma porn. This film is about youth who survived the system to find agency and healing.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
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