Cyntoia Brown, a Tennessee woman who is serving a life sentence for killing a man who paid her for sex when she was just 16-years-old will be released from prison after Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam commuted her sentence. She will be eligible for release on August 7th and will remain on probation for ten years.
"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."
Before being released Brown will have to complete a re-entry program to help her prepare for life outside of prison. Once she is free, Brown "will be subject to a release plan approved by the Tennessee Department of Correction and special supervision conditions, including employment, education, counseling, and community engagement requirements."
Brown was charged with murder and aggravated robbery after she killed a man who had paid her for sex in 2006. Brown claimed she feared for her life and was being pimped out by her boyfriend, who Brown said had raped her multiple times. Prosecutors alleged that Brown's motive for killing the man was robbery, and not self-defense, and a jury convicted her of murder.
Brown's case gained national attention following a 2011 documentary entitled Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story. In recent years, Brown's story has been used by advocates to help fight for criminal justice reform.
Brown said that when she is released she plans to work to help young people who are victims of sex trafficking.
"Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance," Brown said in a statement. "I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me."