Cyntoia Brown: Tennessee woman granted clemency nearly 15 years after killing man during sex trafficking

Brown is eligible for release in August, and will remain on parole for 10 years

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 07 January 2019 21:36 GMT
Tennessee woman granted clemency nearly 15 years after killing man during sex trafficking

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A Tennessee woman who was convicted of murdering a man who picked her up for sex during a time when she says she was a trafficking victim has been granted clemency, nearly 15 years after being sentenced to life in prison.

Cyntoia Brown, 30, was tried as an adult at the age of 16 for killing a 43-year-old man while they were in bed. Brown said that she believed at the time that he was reaching for a gun, and that she feared for her life before she shot Johnny Allen in 2004. Allen was said to be paying her for sex.

Governor Bill Haslam granted her full commutation to parole on Monday, making her eligible for release on 7 August. Brown will then remain on parole for 10 years.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Mr Haslam said in a statement.

He continued: ”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”.

Brown’s case had become a rallying point for criminal justice reform advocates, leading more than a half million people to sign petitions for her release online.

Among those advocating for her release have been a slew of celebrities including LeBron James, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West, Meek Mill, and Amy Schumer.

Brown, who has earned her GED and an associates degree while in prison, thanked Mr Haslam and her supporters in a statement released on Monday.

“Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance,” Brown said. “I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”

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The news was met with praise from Democratic politicians in the state, and by members of the black clergy there.

“Justice has been served, thank you Governor Bill Haslam for granting Cynthia Brown full clemency offering a second chance at life”, state Senator Brenda Gilmore wrote on Twitter.

Reverend Davie Tucker, who leads a Nashville church, told USA Today that the news was emotional and tells a tale of “redemption and forgiveness”.

“I’m crying,” said Tucker, who pushed for clemency. “For her to get another chance at life and the political pressure that Gov Haslam had to wade through to come to this decision, that brings tears to my eyes”.

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