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More than 1,000 children are arrested for prostitution every year in the United States, according to the Justice Department. Cyntoia Brown wasn’t one of them. She was arrested for murder.
When Brown was 16 and a victim of sex trafficking, she killed a man who solicited her for sex. She was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Brown is currently serving a life sentence and won’t be eligible for parole until 2037 — when she’s 69 years old.
Brown’s case is receiving renewed attention thanks to celebrity supporters who think her punishment is unjust. And it’s also brought focus to sentencing of juveniles within the adult justice system.
Is a life sentence a waste of a life when it’s doled out to a minor? There are efforts at work to get laws changed in Tennessee where Cyntoia Brown is serving her life sentence.
We look at how states are reviewing the rules in light of more information about how children’s brains develop and why the U.S. remains the only nation that allows juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole.
- Anita Wadhwani Investigative Reporter, Tennessean; @anitawadhwani
- Ashley Nellis Senior Research Analyst, The Sentencing Project; @love__justice
- Yasmin Vafa Co-founder and Executive Director, Rights 4 Girls; @yvafa
- Thalia Gonzalez Senior Visiting Scholar,Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law; Associate Professor of Law and Politics at Occidental College; @tncgonzalez
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