Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Angie Bergman provided insight for an article in The Tennessean examining the constitutionality of Tennessee’s mandatory sentencing for juveniles. According to the article, Tennessee has the longest mandatory minimum sentence in the nation – 51 years in prison before the possibility for parole – for juveniles that commit certain crimes. There are currently 185 individuals serving life sentences for crimes committed as children. The article discusses studies about adolescent brain development that has driven many changes in how we treat children in the criminal justice system.
Angie and a team of Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys are currently providing pro bono representation to an individual who was convicted to a sentence of 102 years in prison when he was 16 years old. They are challenging his conviction and sentence as unconstitutional. “The fact that we grow and change and mature is a story of almost anyone,” Angie said. “We should extend the same understanding to all juveniles that are interacting with the criminal justice system.”
The full article, “Special Report: In Tennessee, 185 People are Serving Life for Crimes Committed as Teens,” was published by The Tennessean on March 6, 2019, and is available online.