After surviving and resisting a broken system, Cyntoia Brown is finally on her way to freedom.
Back in 2004, Brown killed 43-year-old Johnny Allen, a man who reportedly solicited Brown as a child sex slave when she was just 16 years old. According to The New York Times, Brown shot and killed Allen at his place when she believed her life was in danger. She was charged as an adult and eventually convicted, resulting in a life prison sentence.
However, after 15 years in prison, Cyntoia is being granted clemency by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said in a statement. “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.”
Since her time in prison, Brown has obtained her GED and she’s expected to get her bachelor’s degree this year.
Brown’s story was covered in a 2011 documentary called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story and in 2017, she gained major attention from celebrities speaking out on her story, including Rihanna, T.I., and Kim Kardashian West.
Lawmakers and criminal justice reform advocates have been fighting for Cyntoia for a while now, and the governor’s clemency serves as a big win in the larger issue of incarceration.
Brown will be eligible for release from prison on August 7, but unfortunately, she won’t be completely free until 2029. According to ABC13, Brown will be under parole supervision for ten years on the condition that she doesn’t violate any federal or state laws. She also will have to hold a job down and participate in regular counseling sessions.
Despite all this Cyntonia is still thrilled with the decision. “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance,” Brown said in a statement. “I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”
Meanwhile, some major celebrities are celebrating Cyntonia’s projected release. Hit the next pages to find out who’s giving Cyntonia their full support!