Update (January 7, 2019): Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam officially granted Cyntoia Brown executive clemency on Monday.
Per NBC News, the sex trafficking victim will be eligible for release on August 7, 2019. Following her discharge, Brown will remain on parole for a decade.
In his statement, Governor Haslam said Brown committed “a horrific crime at the age of 16.”Brown, a sex trafficking victim, killed a man who’d solicited the then-minor for sex. She said she believed he would kill her after noticing many guns in his home.
However, the outgoing governor also acknowledged that since her imprisonment, Brown had made considerable improvements to show her maturity.
“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,” the Republican politician said. “Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”
Governor Haslam added Brown’s parole would follow “certain conditions.” According to The Tennessean, Brown will be required to partake in counseling, as well as finish 50 hours of community service, some of which will include working with at-risk adolescents. Finally, Brown will have to enter the workforce.
Brown responded to her release with some remarks through her lawyer and thanked Governor Haslam for his decision. She said she plans to uphold her commitment to mentoring young women whose situations mirror her own.
“With God's help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people. My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been,” her statement read.
Set to leave his post on January 18, this is one of Governor Haslam’s final acts as the top-ranking official in the state of Tennessee.
Update (December 20, 2018): Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who will ultimately decide the fate of imprisoned sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown, announced he was granting clemency to 11 people on Thursday. Brown was not among the group, reports WSMV.
Executive clemency is a power unique to the governorship. After Brown's plea for mercy was denied by the courts earlier this month, Haslam became her final chance. It's possible for the GOP governor to grant further pardons and sentence commutations as WSMV reports he is still considering other cases.
Original Story: Supporters of sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown are continuing in their fight to get her prison sentence reduced. Now, the ball is in Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's court.
Per Rolling Stone, Haslam was confronted by a Black Lives Matter Nashville activist while giving remarks at a higher education event on Monday night. An educator himself, Justin Laing pressed Haslam about the recent Tennessee Supreme Court ruling which declared Brown would not be eligible until she's served 51 years in prison.
Now 30, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery in 2006 and sentenced to life without parole.
"And so I say Gov. Haslam, you have the power and ability to grant clemency to Cynthia Brown, and so I ask when will you grant her clemency," Laing said. "I ask what will be your legacy as you leave office, and how will you answer to this human rights violation that the state of Tennessee is committing by keeping her incarcerated?"
After thanking Laing for his question, Governor Haslam said that his office, just like every other clemency case, would be reviewing Brown's, as well.
"We're reviewing a lot of cases, and while Cyntoia’s case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don’t think you want us to treat hers any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review," the governor answered.
According to The Tennessean, Brown shot and killed Johnny Allen after the man picked Brown up from a Sonic Drive-In and drove her to a nearby hotel. Only 16 years old at the time, Brown explained to authorities that she shot Allen after thinking he was reaching for a gun.
NBC News notes that Brown has made good use of her time while in prison serving her sentence. In 2015, she received an associate's degree from Lipscomb University, a private Christian institution in Nashville. Brown was able to attend the graduation ceremony, even delivering a commencement address in front of her fellow graduates.
Multiple social media posts have called for those who want justice for Brown to give the governor's office a call:
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