Cyntoia Brown, whose case and conviction had gained national interest over the past few years, was released from prison on Wednesday morning according to the Department Of Corrections. Cyntoia Brown, now 31-years old, was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder in 2006 at the age of 16. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Ms. Brown’s case was a little more complicated than it looked on paper though. According to a report in The New York Times (@NYTimes), Cyntoia Brown was placed into adoption as a child. She ran away from her adoptive family at the age of 16. She ended up living in a motel with a pimp, who raped her and forced her into a life of prostitution at 16-years old, according to official court documents. In 2004, Johnny M. Allen, 43, a real estate broker, picked up Brown at a restaurant in Nashville. The two agreed to engage in sexual activity for an agreed upon price of $150. Mr. Allen drove Ms. Brown back to his home after the two parties agreed to the terms. Ms. Brown testified that at one point while they were in the bedroom, she thought Mr. Allen was reaching for a gun to kill her. According to court documents, at some point, Ms. Brown shot Mr. Allen while he was asleep with a gun she had in her purse. Court documents stated that Ms. Brown took money and two guns from the home before she fled the scene. At 16-years old, Cyntoia Brown was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until 2055.
In January, after wide reporting of her case and much media attention, spear-headed by celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Tennessee’s Governor at the time, Bill Haslem, granted clemency to Ms. Brown after being locked up for more than 15-years. Her release date was set for August 7th 2019. Her life sentence was commuted to 15-years in prison, which she had already served, dating back to the time she was originally arrested. Ms. Brown was described by other prisoners and guards alike as a “model prisoner” during her time behind bars. She earned her G.E.D and an Associates Degree with a 4.0 grade-point average. And she has already started working on obtaining her bachelor’s degree. The Department Of Corrections said that Ms. Brown will be on parole until August 7th, 2029.
Former Governor Haslem admitted Imposing a life sentence on a juvenile offender was excessive. Haslem said Brown admitted to “committing a horrific crime at the age of 16”, but added “Yet imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.” Haslem said.