by Mary Tuma
Charity Lee. Courtesy of Lee/Ben Easter
A new Kickstrater campaign is asking donors to help finance a documentary featuring the harrowing story of Charity Lee, a Texas mother who faced the aftermath of the tragic murder of her young daughter by her teenage son, and the subject of the Current’s June 12, 2013 cover story.
In “No Place For Children”—an examination into the American criminal justice system's oftentimes unjust attitude toward juvenile offenders—filmmakers trace the complicated relationship Lee holds with her son Paris, who is now serving out a 40-year sentence in Texas maximum-security prison, and pushes viewers to question whether the now 20-year-old Paris is genuinely remorseful or skillfully manipulative.
Lee transformed the violent crime into activism by starting her own nonprofit organization, the San Antonio-based ELLA Foundation, named after her murdered daughter. She tours the country advocating for victims of violent crime.
“Violent crime rips families apart,” she told the Current last year. ‘There are no sides. Just a whole lot of suffering for anybody connected to it.”
The documentary also juxtaposes the story of five unarmed boys in Elkhart, Indiana who, when seeking to burglarize a home, faced a gun-toting homeowner who killed the oldest boy and injured the youngest of the group, Blake. The four surviving boys (known as the ‘Elkhart Four’) were charged with felony murder in August 2013 and sentenced to 55 years in prison. “Though shockingly unjust, it’s an exemplary case of the justice system choosing retribution over rehabilitation and inappropriately sentencing children as adults,” the filmmakers write.
New York-based Smoke & Apple Films requests funds ranging from more than $10 to more than $10,000 to subsidize the film editor’s salary and pay for the $5,000 in mandatory fees the correctional facility charges to interview Blake. Additional funds will finance an archival producer.
The funding period ends June 11.
Watch the trailer for “No Place For Children” here: