A Tennessee woman who’d been given a life sentence at age 16 for killing a man who she said forced her into prostitution is now free. On Wednesday, Aug. 7, Cyntoia Brown was released from prison after serving 15 years behind bars. Gov. Bill Haslam had granted clemency to Brown, who is now 31, in January.
"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, according to CNN.
Brown was convicted of murder and robbery in 2006 and subsequently sentenced to life in prison, meaning she wouldn’t have been eligible for parole until she was 67. A juvenile court had ordered Brown to be tried as an adult, and prosecutors argued that she killed the 43-year-old man she said bought her for sex in a robbery attempt, not because she was acting in self defense.
Her case first rocketed to national attention with a 2011 documentary, Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story. A number of celebrities, including Ashley Judd, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian, who’s made a passion project out of prison reform work, advocated for Brown’s release over the past few years.
Brown was said to be a model inmate while in prison, according to The New York Times, and earned an associate’s degree through Lipscomb University, a private Christian college. She later earned a bachelor’s degree through the Tennessee Prison For Women in May, according to The Tennesseean. She also helped counsel at-risk youth through Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System, according to CNN.
Supporters have set up a GoFundMe page, "Cyntoia Brown – Second Chance Fund," to help her transition to life outside of prison.
More to come…
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