US

Victim of Sex Trafficking, Cyntoia Brown, To Be Released in August

By Miguel Moreno

Cyntoia Denise Brown was sentenced to life in prison in Kentucky for first-degree murder in 2004. However, with her sentence having been commuted, she is scheduled for release on Aug. 7.

Brown was forced into prostitution at the age of 16, which led to her deadly encounter with Johnny Mitchell Allen, 43. She was convicted for shooting and killing Allen, then stealing his wallet, his truck, and several firearms—all at the age of 16.

booking photo of Cyntoia Brown
Undated Department of Corrections booking photo of Cyntoia Brown. (Tennessee Department of Corrections)

“Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance,” she said in a statement. “I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”

Nashville Council Member Jacobia Dowell introduced the resolution calling for Brown’s sentence to be commuted in January. That same month, the resolution was adopted.

“Pleas for clemency have arisen from members of the legal community, the public at large, and several celebrities,” states the resolution. “Brown’s plight has even attracted the interests of filmmakers who produced a documentary entitled Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.”

Cyntoia Brown Clemency
Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, enters her clemency hearing at Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, Tenn on May 23, 2018. (Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

The controversy behind this case was Brown’s adult sentence, which many believe was harsh and inconsiderate of her history of abuse.

Victim of Child Sex Trafficking, Charged as Adult

According to Help Cyntoia Brown, a website dedicated to the now-31-year-old’s freedom, Brown was sexually abused as a child from the age of seven. After she ran away from home, she ended up living with Garion McGlothen, a sex trafficker going by the name “Cut-Throat,” who raped, beat, and threatened Brown, and had her engage in prostitution with men like Allen to support their living expenses.

After the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that her life sentence without parole was unconstitutional in 2012 because she had been a minor, Brown began the process of appealing for an earlier release.

Celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West had voiced their support for Brown, criticizing her life sentence.

“Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life!” wrote Rihanna on Instagram. “To each of you responsible for this child’s sentence I hope to God you don’t have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!”

West responded to the commutation in Jan.: “Thank you Governor Haslam.”

Aiming High Within Prison Walls

According to Brown’s commutation passed in January this year, Brown must meet certain conditions following her release on parole.

Since her imprisonment, Brown has earned her associates degree and gained work experience as an “unpaid consultant mentoring young girls,” according to her supportive website.

Among other things, the commutation requires her to continue with her pursuits in higher education and work towards a bachelor’s degree after her release. She must also maintain employment if not enrolled in school.

It stipulated that before her release, Brown was to be provided with a “supportive living environment, evidence-based transitional services, and programs to develop the social skills, self-discipline, and job experience necessary” for her future release, stated the governor’s press release.