Tennessee Governor Commutes the Life Sentence of Cyntoia Brown, Orders Early Release | Sojourners

Tennessee Governor Commutes the Life Sentence of Cyntoia Brown, Orders Early Release

Image via PBS documentary, Me Facing Life: Cyntoia's Story

Tennessee Gov, Bill Haslam commuted the sentence of Cyntoia Brown Monday morning, the Tennesean reports. Haslam has ordered Brown’s early release set for Aug. 7, after 15 years in prison. Brown is an alleged sex trafficking victim who, at age 16, killed a 43-year-old man who had picked her up and taken her to his home.

Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison. She would not have been eligible for parole until she had served for 51 years.

A statement from the governor’s office quotes Haslam as saying:  

Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. 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.

According to the statement, during her time in prison Brown has received her GED, and successfully completed an Associates Degree. She is set to complete her bachelor’s degree in 2019. Many within the Department of Correction spoke highly of Brown, and highlighted her capacity to be a positive influence on others.

The statement also outlines the conditions of Brown’s release, which requires her not to violate any state or federal laws, and includes a release plan approved by the Tennessee Department of Correction. She will continue to be under parole supervision until Aug. 7, 2029, at which point her sentence will expire.

In response to the news, Brown also released a statement, saying, “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 … 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.”

Read more here, including the full statements from Gov. Haslam’s office and Cyntoia Brown.

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