Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for killing the man who solicited her for sex when she was 16. Sadly, the Tennessee Supreme Court says she needs to serve 51 years before she’s eligible for release.
The court said that defendants like Brown who are convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison after July 1, 1995, are not eligible for release until they serve at least five decades.
It was a unanimous decision against Brown, who killed a 43-year-old man in 2004 after he brought her to his house for sex. She has pleaded that she only killed him fearing that he would kill her.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit in which Cyntoia Brown argued that her sentence was unconstitutional, citing a 2012 opinion by the US Supreme Court that said mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders violate the US Constitution.
The Tennessee Supreme Court released a statement saying, “under state law, a life sentence is a determinate sentence of 60 years. However, the sixty-year sentence can be reduced by up to 15 percent, or 9 years, by earning various sentence credits.”
Those credits include recognition for good behavior or participation in educational or vocational training programs, as per the Tennessee code.
Brown’s motion was denied by a district court who noted that she wasn’t sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, just a life sentence.
The case is on its way to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, who will consider the Tennessee Supreme Court’s opinion.