Cyntoia Brown who was granted clemency by former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, will be a free woman today.
She will be released to parole supervision on Wednesday August 7, 2019. This comes 15 years after her arrest in 2004 for murdering a Nashville man when she was 16 years old.
Brown was a victim of sex trafficking when she killed Jimmy Allen during an exchange at his home while in bed.
Pleading self-defense as the reason for killling Allen, she was still given a sentence which would require her to complete 51 years before being eligible for release.
Many local organizers and activist groups such as Black Lives Matter Nashville over the years have championed for Cyntoia’s release citing that the sentence was too harsh for someone who was a juvenile.
With petitions, letters to Nashville, and heavy pressure on Governor Haslam before his term was up he relented and granted Clemency to the now 31 year old Cyntoia Brown.
“It’s the right thing to do.” said Haslam. Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life. Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions,” .
She has proven rehabilitation while incarcerated earning her associate degree from Lipscomb LIFE program with a 4.0 GPA and is expecting to soon earn her bachelors degree.
Brown released a statement prior to her release today stating:
“While first giving honor to God who made all of this possible, I would also like to thank my many supporters who have spoken on my behalf and prayed for me. I’m blessed to have a very supportive family and friends to support me in the days to come. I look forward to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation. I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord’s help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud. “
Cyntoia’s parole supervision will continue until August 7, 2029.
Conditions of her parole include an approved release plan, maintaining employment and/or educational enrollment and counseling sessions on a regular basis. She will also be required to complete at least 50 hours of community service which will include working with at risk youth.
Key Statistics on Sex Trafficking
- From 2007 to 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, operated by Polaris, has received reports of 34,700 sex trafficking cases inside the United States.
- In 2017, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 7 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
- The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.8 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.
Robust support needs to be provided to every person who leaves prison, resulting in successful transition back into society.
We wish her the best of luck. And will keep you updated on her progress.