Today, Cyntoia Brown was released from prison in Tennessee. 15 years ago, she was given a life sentence for killing a man who had solicited her when she was a teenage sex trafficking victim. She had been forced into prostitution at the age of 16 after running away from home and getting picked up by a pimp who repeatedly raped her. The incident that led to her arrest and conviction occurred in 2004 when a man offered her $150 for sexual activity. She testified that she was afraid he was going to kill her, so she shot him in his sleep and fled.
Although she was 16, Ms. Brown was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison, where she would not have been eligible for parole until 2055. Numerous people have testified that she was a model prisoner, earning both a GED and an associate’s degree with a 4.0 grade average.
After urging from activists, celebrities, and lawmakers, Governor Bill Haslam granted her clemency. He stated, “…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.”