Brown v. Jordan
Cyntoia Brown was a sixteen-year-old with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder diagnosis when she was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment for homicide. Although the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals held that she may be eligible for parole after serving 51 years pursuant to the Tennessee sentencing statute, a subsequent decision of the Tennessee Court of Appeals strongly calls into question whether she would ever be eligible for parole.
Juvenile Law Center along with other advocacy organizations filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in support of Ms. Brown. Our brief argues that mandatory life sentences are disproportionate and therefore unconstitutional when imposed on children, that parole eligibility even after 51 years of incarceration is effectively a life without parole sentence, and that such a sentence fails to serve accepted penological goals of deterrence, retribution or rehabilitation.