Toya Brown, Tennessee Supreme Court, United States Supreme Court discussed on The Takeaway
Just ahead. We'll look at the case of sin Toya Brown. And why the Tennessee supreme court ruled last week that she's an eligible for release for at least fifty one years. Even though she was convicted when she was just sixteen Brown's case may seem extreme. But our next guest says teenagers in the United States are often tried as adults and fortunately in the United States, and every state there is a mechanism in which a young person under the age of eighteen could be prosecuted and sentenced as an adult. There are a number of states in which legislators specifically say that youth who are certain age and who have committed a certain offense are automatically excluded from juvenile court. Meaning they can't go to juvenile court. I they have to go to court morons in Toyo Brown coming up on the takeaway. KCRW with this Tuesday road report. 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How does the teenage trafficking victim end up facing more than five decades behind bars? That's the story of sin Toya Brown who's fifty one year sentence. Reignited the debate over the treatment of young women of color in our criminal Justice system. Brown was just sixteen when she shot and killed a forty three year old man who solicited her for sex. She was tried as an adult in Tennessee convicted of murder and sentenced to life behind bars in two thousand and six her legal team challenged that sentences unconstitutional pointing to a twenty twelve supreme court ruling that protects most juvenile's from life sentences without parole, but last week at Tennessee supreme court ruled that Brown won't be eligible for release until she served. Fifty one years. I spoke about Brown's case with Marsha Levick. The chief legal officer at juvenile Law Center, and Jerry Thomas the policy director with the campaign for youth Justice, it is deeply upsetting that it wasn't recognized that she. She was a teenager. She was underage and being solicited for sex, my organization, along with a number of organization truly believe there's no such thing as as a teenage prostitute. This is a this is a a young girl who should not have been solicited in this way. I do believe that she felt it was self defense. If you listen to her her describing the situation, she was she was in fear for her life. She believed that the man had will she knew that he had many guns that he was a sharp shooter in the military, and she believed that he was going to harm her that night. But unfortunately, that belief wasn't really taken into consideration. I feel to the extent that it, and it should have been Marsha. I want to bring you in here, you could give us a sense of the supreme court decision that could provide a backdrop here, and how Brown's legal team has been using that to argue for her release unsuccessfully. Sure. The United States Supreme court in a series of decisions that began in two thousand five and then continued through two thousand sixteen essentially addressed sentencing for children who are being prosecuted and sentenced any adult criminal Justice system and relying on our eighth amendments ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The supreme court not only ban the death penalty, but also banned life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide in particular mandatory life sentences, and what has happened in the wake of those decisions is that we have seen a kind of I think toying with the decisions mandate in the sense that while courts are not in fact imposing life without parole sentences on many children across the country convicted of homicide, they are imposing virtual life sentences on those individuals, and by that, of course, it's exactly what we see sin Toya's case to impose if. Thirty year sentence on someone a forty year sentence or even higher sixty seventy year sentences on young people as they go into prison. We are dooming them if not necessarily to die in prison. We are creating a scenario where they will likely come out of prison on a stretcher or they will come out of prison with very little quality life experience left for them. Also wanna bring up the issue that I think is is quite obvious in this conversation which is race and gender sin. Toya was a sixteen year old woman of color, and we know from federal data that women girls of color are disciplined more harshly in school. For example. I'm wondering if either of you could give me a sense of how race plays into her case specifically, and the reason why I'm asking this is because I think about more recent rape cases, for example. Jeffrey Epstein, I think about Brock Turner. I think about Jacob Anderson. These are all white men who while. Are not being convicted of murder their sentencing for you know, sex crimes has been quite light to nil. So how does race play into this? It's it's impossible to have any conversation about our Justice system in this country without confronting race and racism, and the the system is largely populated by men and women young women and young men of color, whether they are black or Brown, and that that legacy the legacy of racism slavery, white supremacy in this country has created a system that has.