Former Tennessee first lady Andrea Conte, the wife of former Gov. Phil Bredesen, was in 1988 kidnapped and assaulted by a man who would later go on to murder another woman. That harrowing experience led Conte to establish the victim advocacy organization You Have the Power. She hopes efforts to reform criminal sentencing rules for juvenile offenders take the experience of victims into account. “When you become a victim of a crime, you feel powerless” over the control of your life, says Cathy Gurley, Executive Director of You Have the Power. A bill under consideration in the Tennessee legislature would make it possible for juvenile offenders to be given early release after 15 years, and Gurley urges that “the victims [get] a place at the table when we are discussing reform.” One of the seven-part series “Sentencing Children” by Me Facing Life filmmaker Dan Birman.
This series is part of Independent Lens‘s commitment to fostering collaboration between filmmakers and journalists. “Sentencing Children” was originally published by The Tennessean newspaper.