Cyntoia Brown Granted Clemency

Zach Saltos '19, Staff Writer

On January 7, Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency by the state of Tennessee. Cyntoia, now 30, will be released August 7 under parole supervision. A lot of people outside of the case feel that she was not treated fairly by the judicial system; procesutors feel that the charges were just.

Backing his decision to grant Brown clemency, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said: “…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.”

In 2004, 16-year old Brown was charged with homicide, aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm by a minor. The charges came after the murder of 43-year old Johnny Allen, a real estate broker. Brown and Allen met on the night of Friday, August 6 where the latter picked up Brown from off the street. According to court documents, Brown has said that Allen had touched her and whispered to her, and after appearing to reach under his bed for a potential weapon, Brown shot Allen with a handgun that she had pulled from her bag. She then stole Allen’s truck, $172 in cash, and two of Allen’s firearms with the intent to pawn them. According to CNN, she has said that she stole the items because she feared to return empty-handed to her pimp. She was arrested August 7.

Despite Brown being a minor at the time of the incident, the court ultimately decided to try her as an adult. The final ruling was life imprisonment without the eligibility of parole for 51 years. Following a documentary about the case, various celebrities voiced their support for Brown. “It’s heartbreaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this.” Kim Kardashian said via her Twitter page. Singer Rihanna also said: “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!” The attention from these big celebrities worked.

In a statement, Brown said “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”

Court documents about the case can be viewed here, The PBS documentary can be viewed here.