Sex Trafficking Survivor Cyntoia Brown Must Serve 51 Years In Prison Before She Is Eligible For Parole, Tennessee Court Rules

She was 16 years old when this saga began.

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| December 07 2018,

8:11 pm

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled former sex slave Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years in prison before she is eligible for parole.

In 2004, a 16-year-old Brown killed 43-year-old Johnny Allan after he solicited her for sex. Brown said she killed Allan in self-defense because she thought he was reaching under his bed to get a gun, reports The Tennessean. During court proceedings, Brown talked about her rough childhood and said she was a victim of sex trafficking.

The prosecution argued she went home with the older man with the intention to rob him and pushed for her to serve more time in prison.

Brown, who has been imprisoned since 2004, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder and tried as an adult. In 2006, she was sentenced to life in prison.

Brown’s lawyers challenged her conviction in 2012, arguing her conviction was unconstitutional because of her age at the time. They cited a Supreme Court decision which determined life sentences without the possibility of parole was a cruel and unusual punishment for a minor.

Brown’s case is pending with the Sixth Circuit of Appeals, which asked Tennessee’s highest court to weigh in on the situation. A district court previously rejected the argument because Brown would eventually be eligible for parole, according to KTLA. Brown had a clemency hearing in May, but the Tennessee Board of Parole couldn’t reach an agreement. Two members voted for clemency; two voted to deny it, and the remainder of the six-person panel believed Brown should be eligible for parole after 25 years.

The Tennessee Supreme Court argued Brown should serve at least 51 years before she could be released.

“In today’s unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court explained that, under state law, a life sentence is a determinate sentence of 60 years,” the court wrote. “However, the sixty-year sentence can be reduced by up to 15 percent, or 9 years, by earning various sentence credits. Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that a defendant serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 1995, may be eligible for release after serving at least 51 years of the sentence."

The state’s sentencing credits include good behavior and involvement in education or vocational programs.

Brown’s plight attracted the attention of a few celebrities including Rihanna, Snoop Dogg and Lebron James, according to The New York Times.


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Now 30 years old, Brown has turned her life around in prison. In addition to her attaining her GED, Brown received an associate degree from Lipscomb University, and she wants to go for a Bachelor of Arts.


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