Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency by Governor Bill Haslam, and celebrities took to social media to react to the progressive decision made.
In 2006, Brown was tried and convicted for murdering a 43 year old man who solicited her for sex when she was a 16 year old sex trafficking victim. She was sentenced to life with a possibility of parole and a minimum of 51 years.
Her earliest parole would thus have been in 2055. During her prison time, Brown got her GED and an associate’s degree, and was expected to get a bachelor’s degree later this year.
The 30 year old inmate was granted clemency by Governor Bill Haslam on Monday. The governor explained in a statement, “This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case. Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16.”
He 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 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.”
Brown will be released on August 7 after 15 years in prison, and will be under supervised parol until 2029. Brown said in a statement, “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”
She added, “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.”
She added, “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.”
Under her parole conditions, she cannot violate any state or federal laws, and will have to follow the requirements of the release plan set by the Tennessee Department of Correction.
Nashville Mayor David Briley said, “I am deeply grateful to Governor Haslam for his decision to commute the sentence of Cyntoia Brown today. He has yet again demonstrated that mercy, redemption and forgiveness have an important place in our democracy and criminal justice system.”
He added, “I also want to thank my former colleagues at Bone McAllester Norton and the advocates and organizations who fought so hard for Ms. Brown’s freedom. This is a great day for social justice and our city.”
See other celebrity reactions below:
Kim Kardashian West
Jada Pinket Smith
Haslam has previously granted 5 commutations, 15 pardons and 1 exoneration.