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BREAKING: Cyntoia Brown has been released from prison. The sex trafficking victim served 15 years for killing a man she says hired her as a prostitute when she was 16. Now she is 31 and will be using her experiences "to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation."
Cyntoia Brown was released from jail on August 7,2019 after being granted clemency in January by former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
Brown was initially sentenced to life in prison for a killing a man who brought her for sex when was 16-year-old. After spending over a decade in jail, Brown was released to parole supervision.
“I look forward to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation,” Brown said in a statement following her release.
Brown’s case gain the attention of high-profile advocates, lawmakers, and A-list celebrities and even prompted a documentary. Here are 4 things you should know about her case and why she is walking free.
1. She went to prison a teen and is coming out an adult
Cyntoia Brown has spent half of her life behind bars.
In 2004, Brown was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the killing of a 43-year-old man. At the age of 16, she was tried as an adult and was convicted for first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery.
Before she was eligible for parole, she was required to serve at least 51 years in prison. After serving 15 years, Brown is now released at the age of 31.
2. She says she was defending herself from her rapist
The controversy surrounding the case came from what she said took place prior to the killing.
Brown, at the age of 16, testified at her trail that she was solicited for sex by Johnny Mitchell Allen.
She said he brought her back to his house, where she noticed a gun cabinet. Brown testified that she has been forced into prostitution by a pimp and resisted Allen. She went to say that she saw him reaching under the bed and she believed he was going to kill her.
In self-defensed, Brown reached for a gun in her purse and shot him.
The prosecution argues during her trail that she shot him in attempt to rob him, because she took his wallet afterwards.
3. She had the support of A-List celebrities
Brown’s case became a widespread conversation on social media years after her sentencing. Inspiring the viral hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown. Among those promoting her story and advocating for her release online were celebrities, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian-West.
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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
“Your (sic) arrested as (sic) result tried and convicted as an adult and sentenced to life in prison,” Rihanna’s post continues. “This is the story of Cyntoia Brown. She will be eligible for parole when she is 69 years old.”
👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Thank you Governor Haslam 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 https://t.co/rAiru84fgn
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 7, 2019
4. She is coming out with a degree
“I learned that my life was — and is — not over,” Brown said in a documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” “I can create opportunities where I can actually help people.”
“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, said last January. “She’s mentoring … troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a nonprofit so she can help other young people.”