Joy as Cyntoia Brown Granted Clemency

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After 15 years behind bars, Cyntoia Denise Brown has at last been granted clemency by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. She is due to be released on parole on August 7.

Brown’s case sparked a national outcry as she was overlooked as a victim of sex trafficking, instead sentenced to life in prison for  killing a man who bought her for sex when she was just 16-years-old.

Today, the Tennessee governor decided that punishment was far too harsh.

“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” said Governor 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.”

CNN reports:

A juvenile court found Brown competent to be tried as an adult. She was convicted of murder and robbery, and sentenced to life in prison.

Though more than a decade had passed since her trial, the harsh punishment for a teenage victim of sex trafficking sparked outrage around the US — particularly after celebrities Rihanna and Kardashian West came to her defense on social media in 2017.

Since Brown’s conviction, juvenile sentencing guidelines in Tennessee have been amended: “If Cyntoia Brown were tried today, legal experts say she would not have been tried in the same way,” said CNN affiliate WZTV anchor Stacy Case, who had been investigating reports of sex trafficking in Tennessee when she came across Brown’s story.

“Our courts today would view her as a child sex slave… she would be viewed as a victim.”

In her 2004 trial, prosecutors argued that Brown was not acting in self-defense when she shot the man who bought her, but rather attempting to rob him.

But Brown tried to explain that she was scared for her life and afraid to return home empty handed to her pimp, a man named “Cut Throat” who threatened to kill her if she tried to escape his control.

“If you look at Cyntoia’s original transcripts, they are peppered with the phrase ‘teen prostitute,'” said Derri Smith, founder and CEO of non-profit End Slavery Tennessee.

“Well we know today there’s no such thing as a teen prostitute…because this teen may think that she decided this was her idea to be raped multiple times a day and give money to someone else, it’s pretty clear there’s an adult behind that who’s manipulating and exploiting her.”

Despite the injustices Brown has faced, she has worked to transform herself behind bars, earning an associate’s degree from Lipscomb University in 2015 and working with Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System to help counsel young people at risk.

“I learned that my life was — and is — not over,” said Brown.

“I can create opportunities where I can actually help people.”

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Paulette HarveyAnne-Marie CASUAndrée DykeBarbi LucasBram Kuyper Recent comment authors
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Paulette Harvey
Paulette Harvey

The way I read it is this, the August deadline for her release is because she would have served the minimum sentence she could by the current laws, she did need to serve a sentence for her crime because she took a life, peoples opinion on the worth of that life is open to question, “johns” fuel trafficking, and the exploitation of ever younger girls and is abhorrent, but shooting them dead may not be the answer. She is all but free and I applaud it.

Anne-Marie CASU

I find her face so open, lively, pleasant. As she says, her life is not over and she can create opportunities to help others. I wish you all the best. May you finally live a really beautiful life.

Andrée Dyke
Andrée Dyke

Common Sense at last. I hope she has a wonderful life and am Thankful times and attitudes have changed. Good Luck 🙏

Barbi Lucas
Barbi Lucas

I am delighted to see justice done at last! I am very unhappy at what I see as a grave miscarriage of justice in sentencing this woman so harshly to begin with! She was only 16 at the time, which I think is much too young to be treated like an adult. The whole situation she found herself in was ridiculous in my opinion.
More power to the judge who saw sense, and agreed to release her.

Bram Kuyper
Bram Kuyper

Glad that finally justice has been done. The man she killed got what he deserved !!