After serving time in prison for murder since she was 16, Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency and was released on Aug. 7.
Brown wrote the book during her 15 years in prison.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted her clemency after Preston Shipp, the prosecutor of the case, and celebrities brought her story wider attention, News Channel 5 reported.
Shipp said he wanted Brown’s case to help victims of child sex trafficking.
“There’s lots of other people just like Cyntoia brown,” Shipp said. “Whose names we haven’t gotten to know, because their names haven’t been tweeted about by celebrities, but they’re there and they’re just as deserving of a second chance.”
During the clemency hearing, Brown’s pro-bono attorney, Charles Bone, gave a statement that became a decisive factor in her release.
He said that she got her degree in prison to help young girls who have been exploited and abused.
“Give her a chance to show what she can do. I think as a speaker, as a writer, she’s gonna be amazing,” he said.
Brown said in a statement on Aug. 5, according to Newser, “I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord’s help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud.”
Brown was convicted in 2006 of murdering Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen. Police said she shot Allen in the back of the head at close range with a gun she brought to rob him after he picked her up at a drive-in theater in Nashville to have sex with her.
Brown’s lawyers contended she was a sex trafficking victim who not only feared for her life but also lacked the mental capability to be culpable in the slaying because she was impaired by her mother’s alcohol use while she was in the womb.
According to court documents, Brown ran away from her adoptive family in Nashville in 2004 and began living with a man known as “Cut Throat” in a hotel, who then forced her to become a prostitute. Court documents say the man verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted her.
One night, Allen picked up Brown at a Sonic Drive-In and she agreed to engage in sexual activity for $150. Once at his place, Brown eventually got into Allen’s bed. Brown told law enforcement officials she thought he was reaching for a gun, so she shot him with a handgun from her purse.
She took two of his guns and his money from his wallet before fleeing the scene.
Brown expressed thanks in a statement released Monday by her legal team.
“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,” Brown said. “Let today be a testament to his saving grace.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against life-without-parole sentences for juveniles. Yet, the state of Tennessee argued successfully in lower courts that it was not in violation of federal law because Brown did have a possibility for parole: She was sentenced to serve at least 51 years of her life sentence.
“We need to see this as a national awakening to change the draconian laws that allow juveniles, children, to be placed in adult prisons when they’re just children. They’re not little adults,” said Houston Gordon, one of Brown’s lead attorneys.
To date, Haslam has granted five commutations, 15 pardons, and one exoneration. The Republican says he is continuing to review and consider additional clemency requests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.