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Cyntoia Brown has cause to celebrate.
After the repeated requests of activists, politicians, community leaders and celebrities, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted clemency on Monday to Brown, an alleged sex trafficking victim who, as a teenager, murdered a 43-year-old man who’d solicited her for sex. She began serving out a life sentence at the age of 16 but Brown, now 30, will be released on Aug. 7, after which she will be required to attend counseling, complete 50 hours of community service and maintain employment, The Tennessean reports. She will also be on parole for 10 years, according to the outlet.
Brown thanked Haslam for giving her a second chance — an “act of mercy” — in a statement released by her lawyers.
“I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me,” her statement reads, according to The Tennessean. “With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people. My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.”
A number of high-profile celebrities, like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, have used their platform in recent years to bring attention to Brown’s story. Following news of her impending freedom, social media has been ablaze with congratulatory posts about Brown.
"Thank you Governor Haslam," Kardashian wrote on Twitter Monday morning. The reality TV star is one of many celebs who began speaking out in support of Brown last year. Kardashian in particular has become a vocal supporter of prison reform, and her campaigning helped free Alice Johnson, a great-grandmother in prison for life over a drug offense, just last year.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Actress and talk show host Jada Pinkett Smith is another celeb who took to Twitter to thank the governor of Tennessee for taking action in Brown's case. Days before his decision, Brown's supporters held a press conference asking Haslam to free Brown before his term ends at the end of the month.
Anika Noni Rose
"Not sure why she has to wait till August, but glad she will be walking free!" actress Anika Noni Rose tweeted after hearing the news. Like many on social media, Rose wondered why Brown will not be freed immediately. The answer seems to be a matter of preparation; prior to her release, Brown will be required to participate in a roughly six-month prorgram designed to prepare her for transitioning to life outside of prison, according to USA Today.
"Yes!!! Cyntoia Brown is granted full clemency!! Thank you, Governor Haslam! Thank you!" wrote Alyssa Milano. The actress and activist has been a proud supporter of the #MeToo movement, and has used her platform to draw attention to many causes — most recently, the abuse immigrant children have been subjected to at shelters.
"YES!!! YES! This is when our justice system makes me proud," award-winning actress Viola Davis wrote on Twitter. Davis is one of many who were overjoyed at the news, writing that hearing about Brown's soon-to-be freedom "made [her] day."
In a tweet published Monday afternoon, actress Sophia Bush thanked Brown's supporters for their hard work and encouraged her followers to use their voices for good.
"It happened!! Thank you to everyone who fought for Cyntoia. Every phone call. Every letter. When you wonder, 'I’m just one person, what can I do?' Look at how many of you added up to create a wave of support and get the attention of the powers that be! YES!" she wrote.
[Photo: Associated Press]
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