State v. Booker
Tyshon Booker, a Black youth, received a mandatory life sentence, without any consideration of his age or attendant characteristics, for a felony murder he committed at age 16. Under Tennessee statute, Tyshon will be in his late sixties before becoming parole eligible.
Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in the Tennessee Supreme Court in support of Tyshon. We argued that Tyshon's sentence is a de facto life sentence that provides no meaningful opportunity for release in violation of Miller's requirement that youth and its attendant characteristics be considered before imposing such a sentence. We urged the court to grant review of Tyshon's case to remedy Tennessee's failure to take any action to address its mandatory sentencing scheme in the wake of the 2012 Miller and 2016 Montgomery decisions holding that "imposition of a State's most severe penalties on juvenile offenders cannot proceed as though they were not children" and requiring courts to reconsider such sentences or provide parole eligibility which ensures a meaningful opportunity for release.
The Tennessee Supreme Court granted Tyshon’s Application for Permission to Appeal.
Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in support of Tyshon, reiterating our argument that Tyshon’s sentence is a de facto life sentence that provides no meaningful opportunity for release, in violation of Miller, which requires courts to conduct individualized hearings considering the developmental differences between youths and adults before imposing such a sentence on children. We further argued that Black youths' experiences with racial stress and trauma are relevant developmental differences between youths and adults for courts to consider.