Children of the Dumping Ground. 50 min. / documentary 2014 / USA. In 2009, Karen Grau of Calamari Productions met a young boy named Justin while filming inside Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, a maximum-security juvenile prison 35 minutes east of Indianapolis.
At age 14, Justin was unlike any boy the producers had met during their 17 years filming inside juvenile prisons. Why? With an IQ of 40, Justin functioned at the level of a second-grader. He was the victim of abuse as a young child, couldn’t read or write and had no idea why he was living a life behind bars.
Perhaps more wrenchingly, Justin had no parents, no family, no guardian and no legal counsel.
“There was no way we could turn our backs on his story,” said Karen Grau, a film producer at Calamari Productions.
Now, the four-year odyssey of Justin’s life in the system is the basis of a film by director and producer Karen Grau, “Children of the Dumping Ground.”
What happens to children with developmental disabilities who become ensnared in America’s juvenile justice system?
It’s not as uncommon as you might think. One in three kids who enter correctional facilities have previously received special ed services. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities are four times as likely as children without disabilities to be sexually abused. Individuals with these disabilities comprise 3 percent of the general population but well over 10 percent of the United States prison population.
What is uncommon is documenting the real life stories of these kids as the unthinkable happens.
Bringing these stories to light and igniting a national dialogue in the hopes of changing this practice is both difficult and heartbreaking. But necessary.
Emmy-Award winning Calamari Productions throws back the veil on this national epidemic, doing so through the intimate and unforgettable story of Justin, a young
boy who had no voice and seemingly no future … until now.
Here’s what the National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability said about the film:
“Karen Grau and Calamari Productions once again expose the madness of our country’s unnecessary, expensive and counterproductive practice of incarcerating vulnerable children and the devastating toll it takes. This movie is yet more evidence that children do not belong in cages.”
Visit calamariproductions.com to learn more about the film.