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Cyntoia Brown was released from a Tennessee prison. Here are 4 things to know about her case

 

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.

Rihanna posted on social media: “Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named ‘cut-throat.’ After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men you were purchased by a 43-year-old child predator who took you to his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him.”
“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.”
Kim Kardashian West, who championed Brown’s release and has become an advocate for criminal justice reform, praised the governor’s decision to grant her clemency.

👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Thank you Governor Haslam 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 https://t.co/rAiru84fgn

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.”
While in prison, Brown received her Associate Degree from Lipscomb University in 2015. According to The Tennessean, Brown obtained her Bachelor’s degree in the Tennessee prison for women in May.
Cyntoia Brown collaborated with Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System to help counsel young people at risk, and her supporters say she has been a model inmate during her incarceration.
“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.”

Source: CNN

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