NASHVILLE, TN – Days before leaving office, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown.
“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” said Gov. Bill Haslam in a statement. “Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. 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.”
Brown, who said she was forced into prostitution at a young age, was convicted of the 2004 murder of Johnny Mitchell Allen, 43, whom she said she killed in self-defense. She will be released Aug. 7, 2019 after serving 15 years in prison.
Brown released a statement shortly after the governor’s decision writing, “Thank you, Gov. Haslam for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me. I am thankful for all the support, prayers and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings. The Lord has held my hand this whole time and I would have never made it without Him. Let today be a testament to His saving grace… 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’s case became a cause célèbre for several high-profile advocates, including comedian Amy Schumer, reality star Kim Kardashian West, and actress Ashley Judd.