Freedom at last. Cyntoia Brown will be released from prison to parole supervision on August 7, according to former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who granted her clemency seven months ago. Under the terms of her release, she will report to the parole officer regularly for the next 10 years. Additionally, she must have a job and participate in community service and counseling.
The 31-year-old was sentenced to life in prison when she was just 16 years old for killing a man named Johnny Allen who paid her for sex and brought her back to his home. During her 2006 trial, Brown told the court she feared for her life. She also revealed that she was forced into child prostitution by a violent boyfriend who used her to make money. The court found her guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced her to life in prison with eligibility for parole when she turns 69 years old.
Brown first made headlines in 2017 when celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Bella Thorne and Rihanna campaigned for her release. At the time, Kim 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.”
On the same day, Rihanna echoed the KUWTK star, writing, “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! #FREECYNTOIABROWN #HowManyMore.”
When the news broke in January that Brown was granted clemency, Kim immediately thanked the governor on Twitter. “Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Governor Haslam said in a statement at the time. “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.”
👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Thank you Governor Haslam 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 https://t.co/rAiru84fgn
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 7, 2019
Fortunately, it seems like Brown is thriving behind bars. “She is light years today, as a woman, different from the traumatized 16-year-old that she was,” Derri Smith, founder and CEO of non-profit End Slavery Tennessee who has worked on Brown’s case for more than two years said in January. “She’s mentoring … troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a non-profit, so she can help other young people.”
Despite the challenging circumstances, Brown seems to see the silver lining in all of it. “I learned that my life was — and is — not over,” Brown said in the documentary called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story. “I can create opportunities where I can actually help people.”
Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.