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Children Who Kill

What is the correct punishment for the most shocking of crimes, when they are committed by a minor?

In this documentary, Susanna Reid is in America with exclusive access to high profile cases involving children who kill, as the country questions, what is the correct punishment for this most shocking of crimes?

Twenty years ago the details of Joshua Phillips' case gripped America when the 14 year old murdered his eight year old friend and neighbour Maddie Clifton before concealing her body for six days.  Although still a child Joshua's crime was ruled so heinous, he was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of release.

America is unique in handing out 'death in prison' sentences to juveniles. 15 year old Morgan Leppert was also found guilty of first degree murder for the brutal killing of a disabled man. Despite the fact that she was a child who acted as an accomplice to her 23 year old boyfriend, she also received the same punishment, life without parole.

As Susanna discovers, the challenge to change America's extreme approach to juvenile crime is controversial, particularly with the families of the victims.

Should teenagers be held criminally responsible to the same degree as adults or do even children who commit the most horrific of crimes deserve a second chance?

Don’t miss Children Who Kill, Tuesday 24 July, 8.30 on TVNZ 1.

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