To prevent children from being condemned to die in prison, the nation’s leading mitigators unearth the life histories and personal narratives of the accused.

5 years ago, many states mandated life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder. That changed after the landmark 2012 case Miller vs. Alabama. The Supreme Court held that judges could still impose life without parole on juveniles, but with juveniles the court had to first consider the life story of each kid, they had to hold a mitigation hearing, much as there is a mitigation hearing in adult court before the death penalty is imposed.

Our 4-part series will follow 3 mitigators and their young clients across Louisiana, the state with the highest per capita incarceration rate. We follow the mitigators as they unearth details about their clients lives and work to weave them into a narrative. How do you tell a story that saves lives? How can you be sure this kid will not lapse into old behavior and kill again after his or her release? What does working under these stakes mean? How does the relationship between the mitigator and the accused unfold? And how does it change the child and the mitigator?