Success! Cyntoia Brown Receives Clemency and Release Date From Prison

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, a sex trafficking victim who was convicted of murdering her abuser when she was 16. After spending almost 15 years behind bars, Brown, now 30, will be released from prison in August.

Brown’s case drew massive attention, outrage and activism and was a huge miscarriage of justice. At just 16, Brown was convicted as an adult of murder and prostitution and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole until she was 69 years old. The defense argued the murder was in self-defense.

Brown ran away from home as a teenager. A man who called himself “Kutthroat” picked her up and abused her and sold her for sex. In 2004, he sent her to the home of Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old realtor who was to pay her $150 for sex. Brown says he grabbed her roughly and then reached for the side of the bed. According to Brown, she was afraid he was reaching for a gun, so she shot him.

Authorities arrested Brown and charged her as an adult. She entered a plea of self-defense, but in 2006 a court found her guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery.

The 2011 PBS documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story”, brought increased attention to the case. Brown has since earned the support of activists and celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West and Amy Schumer as well as a massive public push for her release. Multiple Care2 petitions with about 600, 000 supporters demanding her release and were delivered to Governor Haslam.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment, and a few months later Brown’s attorneys began pushing for a new trial, citing evidence that she suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome.

Over the past year, Brown’s case started moving again. Last May, the parole board gave Governor Haslam a split recommendation on Brown’s clemency request. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments a month later on whether or not Brown’s life sentence is constitutional. The judges agreed the state’s sentencing laws were contradictory and asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to clarify the law.

In December, the court unanimously ruled that people sentenced to first-degree murder and life in prison become eligible for parole only after serving 51 years in prison.

At this point, Brown’s future did not look promising, but on January 7, Governor Haslam announced he would grant Brown’s request for clemency.

Governor Haslam said Brown deserved mercy given her rehabilitation while in prison and age at the time of the crime. Cyntoia Brown will be free on August 7. As a condition of her release, Brown will be required to participate in counseling, get a job and complete 50 hours of community service, including working with at-risk youth.

Take Action!

Brown has spent more than enough time in prison, and a Care2 petition is asking Governor Bill Haslam and Governor-Elect Bill Lee to release her immediately. Sign and share this petition demanding Brown’s immediate release from prison.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2′s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

54 comments

Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago

TYFS

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Jan K
Jan S2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Amparo Fabiana C

Release her now, sooner...next month.

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

justice served

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Gene J
Gene J2 months ago

Already signed the petition, it's now over 60,000. The goal was originally 45,000 - why not deliver it?

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Eugene J
Gene J2 months ago

So, what possible reason is there for holding her in custody until August? Why isn't she free now? I can't imagine ANY circumstance under which she should have been tried nor convicted, nor a single reason she should not be immediately released. There are any number of horrible things that could happen to her between now and August in prison. I just hope a good lawyer finds grounds for a massive civil suit. She deserves so much more than she's been given. All children who have been sexually trafficked do.

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