A second chance?
Susanna Reid investigates whether juvenile murderers serving life should get parole…
Friends and neighbours Josh Phillips, 14, and eight-yearold Maddie Clifton used to play together in the middle-class neighbourhood, where they lived across the street from each other.
But, on 3 November 1998, Josh, who had recently moved to the area, brutally murdered Maddie by battering her with a baseball bat before stabbing her.
Since juvenile offenders in America can receive adult sentences, Josh was put away for life without parole in 1999.
But now prisoners like Josh are getting the chance to appeal their sentences, do they deserve a second chance – or should life mean life?
In this one-off documentary showing as part of ITV’s Crime & Punishment season, Good Morning Britain’s Susanna
Reid travels to the US for an exclusive interview with Josh, who is now 33. She also meets Maddie’s family and discovers the outcome of Josh’s four-day appeal hearing, extracts from which appear in the programme.
‘Josh’s crime shocked America, and at 15 he was sentenced,’ says Susanna. ‘In the UK, no child could legally receive such a severe punishment. But, in America, unlike any other country in the world, adult crime means adult time.’
In the hearing, and in his interview, Josh puts his case for having his sentence changed 19 years after the murder took place.
‘I think I deserve a chance,’ he says. ‘I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Freedom scares me – I’ve never had a job or had to pay taxes and I’ve never taken care of myself. But I want to get out of here.’
However, as far as Maddie’s family are concerned, her killer should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
‘She doesn’t get to walk the face of this earth again,’ says Maddie’s older sister, Jessica. ‘Why should he?’
Life behind bars… Susanna meets prisoner Josh Phillips
new fActuAl Children Who Kill
thursday, 9.00pm ItV
Shocking murder… Maddie was killed by Josh when he was 14