15 to Life

PBS Premiere: Aug. 4, 2014Check the broadcast schedule »

In Context

In June 2000, 14-year-old Kenneth Young and 24-year-old Jacques Bethea, a neighborhood crack dealer and Young's mother's supplier, committed a series of armed robberies in Tampa, Florida. Bethea brandished the pistol and on one occasion was talked out of raping one of the victims by his younger partner. Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured during the crimes.

At 15, Young was tried under Florida law as an adult and received four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. By 2006, all of Young's appeals had been denied. In 2009, his last hope for clemency from the governor's office was also denied. Then, in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Graham v. Florida declared it unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the case of non-homicidal crimes. This ruling vacated Young's life-without-parole sentences. At his 2011 re-sentencing hearing at the age of 26, Young was resentenced to four concurrent 30-year terms, followed by 10 years of probation. Kenneth Young is set for release in 2030 and continues to seek a reduced sentence that acknowledges his rehabilitation.


» Guzzo, Paul. "Tampa Man's Crimes as Youth Yield '15 to Life,' A Documentary." The Tampa Tribune, July 20, 2014.

» Kenneth Ray Young, Appellant vs. State of Florida, Appellee.