Nashville, Tenn. • A lady who says she was a 16-year-old intercourse trafficking sufferer when she killed a man in 2004 was granted clemency Monday by Tennessee’s governor and will be released from prison later this yr.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who had been serving a life sentence however who will be released on parole on Aug. 7 — 15 years from the date she was first arrested.
“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,” Haslam mentioned in his assertion.
Brown, 30, will stay on parole supervision for 10 years on the situation she doesn’t violate any state or federal legal guidelines, holds a job, and participates in common counseling periods.
Brown’s case has attracted nationwide consideration from prison justice reform advocates, and the eye has amped up as Haslam’s second and closing time period nears an finish. He leaves workplace Jan. 19.
While legislation enforcement officers had opposed clemency, arguing Brown was not justified in killing 43-year-old Johnny Allen, celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and singer Rihanna spoke out for Brown. The governor’s workplace acquired hundreds of cellphone calls and emails from supporters.
“Thank you Governor Haslam,” Kardashian West tweeted quickly after information of the clemency determination broke, which was adopted by comparable high-profile responses from former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, in addition to actresses Alyssa Milano and Viola Davis.
Brown was convicted in 2006 of murdering Allen, a Nashville actual property agent. Police mentioned she shot Allen behind the top at shut vary with a gun she introduced to rob him after he picked her up at a fast-food restaurant in Nashville to have intercourse together with her.
Brown’s legal professionals contended she was a intercourse trafficking sufferer who not solely feared for her life but additionally lacked the psychological functionality to be culpable within the slaying as a result of she was impaired by her mom’s alcohol use whereas she was within the womb.
According to courtroom paperwork, Brown ran away from her adoptive household in Nashville in 2004 and started dwelling with a man generally known as “Cut Throat” in a lodge, who then compelled her to turn into a prostitute. Court paperwork say the man verbally, bodily and sexually assaulted her.
One night time, Allen picked up Brown at a Sonic Drive-In and she agreed to interact in sexual exercise for $150. Once at his place, Brown ultimately received into Allen’s mattress. Brown informed legislation enforcement officers she thought he was reaching for a gun, so she shot him with a handgun from her purse.
She took two of his weapons and his cash from his pockets earlier than fleeing the scene.
Brown expressed thanks in a assertion released Monday by her authorized group.
“I am thankful for all the support, prayers, and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings. The Lord has held my hand this whole time and I would have never made it without him,” Brown mentioned. “Let today be a testament to his saving grace.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has dominated towards life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. Yet, the state of Tennessee argued efficiently in decrease courts that it was not in violation of federal legislation as a result of Brown did have a chance for parole: She was sentenced to serve not less than 51 years of her life sentence.
“We need to see this as a national awakening to change the draconian laws that allow juveniles, children, to be placed in adult prisons when they’re just children. They’re not little adults,” mentioned Houston Gordon, one among Brown’s lead attorneys.
While in prison, Brown accomplished her GED and took school lessons. She is at present one course away from ending a bachelor’s diploma at Lipscomb University.
Nashville Mayor David Briley praised Haslam’s determination, calling it a “great day for social justice and our city.” Democratic state Sen. Raumesh Akbari mentioned the clemency announcement reveals that Tennessee “can show love, compassion and mercy” for individuals who have skilled trauma.
Haslam’s determination comes at a time when he’s contemplating his subsequent political transfer in Tennessee now that U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander introduced he won’t search re-election in 2020.
Yet in contrast to Democrats, Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers remained markedly quiet on Haslam’s determination.
Gov.-elect Bill Lee provided a transient assertion, saying he “respected” Haslam’s selection within the advanced case and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally mentioned he “appreciated” the method the governor went by to arrive at his determination.
Ed Yarborough, one other legal professional for Brown, joked at a Monday press convention that he was introduced on because the “token Republican” in Brown’s case.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Gov. Haslam for having the wisdom and the compassion to do what he did today,” he mentioned. “It will not be popular with everyone in Tennessee, but he did the right thing and we praise him for that.”
To date, Haslam has granted 5 commutations, 15 pardons and one exoneration. The Republican mentioned he’s persevering with to evaluate and contemplate extra clemency requests.