Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to grant clemency on Monday to Cyntoia Brown garnered national attention.
Brown, now 30, was convicted for fatally shooting a man in 2004. The man, 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen, had hired 16-year-old Brown for sex. Brown testified she killed Allen out of fear he was going to shoot her.
Although the clemency was met with joy by her supporters, many are wondering why Brown has to wait until August to leave prison.
Aug. 7 will mark 15 years since the day Brown killed Allen. Her attorneys said 15 years is the typical sentence for second-degree murder, the Tennesseean reported. According to Charles Bone, Brown’s lawyer, Haslam wanted Brown to fulfill a full 15 years of her sentence.
“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Haslam said in a statement. “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. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”
A Care2 petition has begun asking Haslam and incoming Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to release Brown now. So far, the petition has more than 7,000 “signatures” toward its goal of 10,000.
According to the Tennesseean, when a member of Brown’s legal team asked if she were disappointed it would take another seven months before she was free, Brown replied: " 'Are you crazy? I was supposed to get out when I was 67 years old.' "
Brown’s case gained renewed attention in 2011 when a PBS documentary titled "Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story" premiered. It detailed how she was forced to be a teen prostitute, and the day of the fatal shooting of Allen, who Brown thought was reaching for a gun.
A re-airing of the documentary likely sparked a social media movement to free Brown, with celebrities joining the movement and sharing the story.
Earlier this month, the Nashville City Council appealed to Haslam to grant Brown clemency, saying her conviction
gave “seemingly little consideration” to the “horrors of her childhood and the repeated sexual abuse she endured.”
Haslam agreed during the final days of being in office.
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