In 2008, when this film was completed, Female juvenile offenders had the fastest growing rates of incarceration; yet, media access to their stories and lives was extremely limited because they were minors. However, in 2004 Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich granted veteran documentary filmmaker Tod Lending unprecedented access to female juvenile correctional facilities in Illinois in order to tell the story of one such young woman.
In this very, intimate, honest, and provocative character study, the story of juvenile offender Aimee Meyers unfolds over four years as she struggles to overcome her addictions and destructive behavior. Lending films Aimee through her incarcerations and releases. He captures her therapy sessions, parole board reviews, staff case meetings, life at home and the important relationships she has with her teacher, Jeannie Lewis, and Parole Agent, Mitch Blackart.
In Aimee’s Crossing, Lending films how the juvenile justice system contends with her history of domestic and sexual abuse, substance abuse, and mental health issues (she is diagnosed as bipolar). The film is unique in its comprehensive presentation of strategies employed by the justice system to enforce punishment, yet assist youthful wrongdoers in finding a productive path. The successes and failures of the system are exposed throughout the story.
By focusing on one individual, Lending achieves a level of depth and intimacy that could not be achieved by focusing on multiple characters. Aimee’s distinctive voice, and the many issues that her story embodies (mental health, abuse, addiction, family dysfunction, education, juvenile criminal justice) will inspire the public to wrestle with these painful realities that are confronting an ever-growing number of young women.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation