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ICYMI: Sentencing Children (The Web Series)

Juvenile justice continues to be a hot topic of debate for Americans. Birman Productions took a closer look at what's happening in Tennessee, one of the most conservative states in the country. We partnered with ITVS | Independent Lens and The Tennessean on this journalistic collaboration.

16-year-old Cyntoia Brown was arrested in 2004 for the murder of a 43-year-old man. She was tried in adult court and sentenced to life. Filmmaker Dan Birman has followed her case from the Nashville trial to her incarceration at TN Prison for Women.


Concerned that a teenager had been convicted in an adult court and sentenced to life in prison, lawyers appealed Cyntoia Brown's murder conviction in 2011. They argued in a Nashville court that Cyntoia was herself a victim.


Under Tennessee law, a child can be tried in adult court, and if convicted of first degree murder, can be sentenced to life in prison, or life with a possibility of parole after 51 years. State legislators think that law is too harsh.


Oudon Panyanouvong, now 34, is serving a 40-year sentence for a crime he says he did not commit. He pled guilty because he did not know what his rights were during arrest and interrogation.


A group of Tennessee state legislators, lawyers and judges are trying to prepare a bill that would reform state sentencing laws for juveniles who have committed serious crimes.

Photo cred: The Tennessean


Former first lady Andrea Conte relives bone-breaking 1988 attack that sparked her victims' right group, You Have The Power. (YHTP)

Photo cred: The Tennessean


Eric Alexander

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