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Cyntoia Brown, Alleged Sex Trafficking Victim Convicted Of Murder At 16, Granted Clemency
"I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me," Brown said in a statement thanking Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for his "act of mercy."
Cyntoia Brown, who says she was a sex trafficking victim when she was convicted of murder at age 16, has been granted full clemency by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
Brown, now 30-years-old, will now be eligible for release on August 7 and will stay on parole for 10 years after Haslam on Monday granted her a full commutation to parole.
Haslam spoke of the value of hope in his decision.
“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," Haslam said in a statement, according to The Tennessean. "Yet, 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."
"Transformation should be accompanied by hope," he continued. "So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”
As part of the agreement, Brown will attend mandatory counseling and perform at least 50 hours of community service, which will include work with at-risk youth. Her employment is also required.
Brown, through a statement, thanked Haslam for his "act of mercy."
"I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me," Brown said. "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."
Brown claims she was forced into prostitution and feared for her life when she shot 43-year-old real estate agent Johnny Allen in the head while in bed in August 2004. Brown was 16 years old at the time of the killing.
Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. The Tennessee Supreme Court had ruled this past December that Brown must serve 51 years of her sentence before she would be potentially eligible for release, according to NBC News.
Activist groups and several celebrities, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, had rallied on behalf of Brown, asking the justice system for benevolence while noting that Brown was a victim herself. More than half a million citizens had signed petitions advocating for her freedom.
Brown's story was the subject of a 2011 documentary, titled "Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story."
Brown would not have been eligible for parole until she was 69 if Haslam had not intervened in his last days as governor.