Cyntoia Brown appears in court during her clemency hearing at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville in May 2018. (Lacy Atkins / Associated Press)
Carson High School

Clemency granted to Cyntoia Brown, a victim of sex trafficking serving a life sentence for murder

Finally, being granted clemency after facing a life sentence, Cyntoia Brown has set a precedence for others who may find themselves in a similar situation. At just 16 years old, Brown was in an abusive relationship then forced into prostitution by a pimp named, “Kut-Throat,” according to the Indianapolis Star.

In 2004, Brown was picked up by Johnny Allen, who bought her for sex. Several weeks previous to that date she was repeatedly raped and drugged, she explained how when she arrived to Allen’s house she saw multiple guns and was afraid of being shot, according to the Indianapolis Star. Since he had so many guns, Brown assumed Allen was reaching for a gun so she shot him, before leaving she took his money and left in his car.

On Aug. 8, 2004, Brown was arrested for the death of Allen. Despite being 16 years old, Brown was tried as an adult in a juvenile court, she was charged with first degree murder and robbery. Although she claims she was afraid of being shot the court came to the conclusion that Allen was asleep at the time he was shot and she was sentenced life in jail.

“I’ve heard about the Cyntoia Brown case on social media and in my opinion I think she was wrongfully convicted. They should have listed her as a sex worker instead of a prostitute because prostitution is voluntarily and she did it against her will. If I were her, I would have done the same thing,” Carson High School senior Trinity Young said.

Later, in March 2011, PBS released a documentary shedding light on her case titled, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” In November 2012, the court found out that Cyntoia had fetal alcohol syndrome and her attorneys fought to go to trial. Soon, it made more people aware of Brown’s case and celebrities started to get involved by posting her on social media. In December 2018, the supreme court decided she can be released but only after she spent 15 years in prison.

“I think it’s long overdue. I think that they should’ve been released her from jail, but the action that people took to get her out of jail was awesome. Some people may look at her as just a murderer, but she went through a very traumatic situation,” Academy of Medical Arts senior Jordan Jones said.

Recently, in January 2019, then-Governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam granted Brown clemency. She spent 15 long years in jail for defending herself, and she will finally be released on Aug. 7 when she is 31. Although she will be free from jail she will be on parole for 10 years. Brown has fought a hard battle, but she has finally won and is able to get a fresh start in life.