She’s free. Cyntoia Brown was released from prison on Wednesday, August 7, after being granted clemency in January by former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Her case attracted high-profile attention and assistance from the likes of Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and other celebrities.
Cyntoia, 31, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man who bought her for sex when she was just 16. During her 2006 trial, Cyntoia told the court that she was sex trafficked and forced into prostitution by a pimp. In August 2004, she met Johnny Mitchell Allen and he took her to his house. While there, Cyntoia said feared for her life when she thought she saw him reaching for a firearm and killed him in self-defense. She was released to parole supervision after spending over a decade in jail.
In a statement following her release, Cyntoia said, “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.”
One of those supporters who spoke out for Cyntoia was Kim, 38. In November 2017, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star tweeted about her case and wrote, “The system has failed. It’s heartbreaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better and do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this. #FreeCyntoiaBrown.”
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Rihanna, 31, also shared her story on Instagram, and wrote that November, “Did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? ‘Cause … something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child’s sentence I hope to God you don’t have children because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!”
Now, Cyntoia is free and apparently planning on helping other women in similar situations. She also worked on a book during her time in prison — Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System. Perhaps it’s time we finally listen to what she has to say about what happened to her.
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