Tennessee Governor Grants Full Clemency To Cyntoia Brown

January 7, 2019  |  

 

 

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Source: Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty

 

Tennessee governor Bill Haslam has granted full clemency to Cyntoia Brown.

Brown, 30, was sentenced to life in prison for killing Johnny Miller Allen, a 43-year-old man, who planned to statutorily rape her when she was 16 years old. 

After running away from home, Brown got involved with a man who forced her into the sex trafficking industry. She agreed to “have sex” with Allen for $150 and he took her back to his home.

During her trial she testified that she killed Allen because she believed he intended in killing her. But forsenic evidence found Allen was sleep when Brown shot him in the back of the head.

She was tried as an adult and found guilty of murder. Brown was sentenced to 51 years to life in prison. Recently a judge upheld the decision stating that Brown would not be eligible for parole until she’d served at least 51 years in prison.

Thankfully, Gov. Haslam intervened. 

Haslam’s office issued this statement about his decision.

”Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today granted executive clemency to Cyntoia Denise Brown by commuting her sentence of life imprisonment. She will be released to parole supervision on August 7, 2019, after serving 15 years in prison.

‘This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,’ Haslam said. ‘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. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.’

Brown’s parole conditions will require that she not violate any state or federal laws, and she 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. Parole supervision will continue until August 7, 2029, at which point Brown’s sentence will expire. She will complete re-entry programming prior to her release from custody in August in order to facilitate a successful transition to the community.

In 2006, Brown was convicted by a Davidson County jury of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery for the 2004 murder of 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen, which occurred when then-16-year-old Brown was picked up by Allen and taken to his home. She received a life sentence with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 51 years in prison, which means she would not have been eligible for parole consideration until 2055, at the earliest, without the governor’s action.

While in prison, Brown has earned her GED and completed an associate degree in 2015 through the Lipscomb LIFE program with a 4.0 GPA. It is anticipated that she will complete a bachelor’s degree in 2019. Numerous Department of Correction employees and volunteers attest to her extraordinary personal transformation while incarcerated, which will allow her to be a positive influence on the community upon release.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Board of Parole issued a positive recommendation to the governor in favor of granting Brown a commutation.

‘While we have spent a considerable amount of time studying and implementing sentencing and criminal justice reform in our state, there is more work to be done,’ Haslam said. ‘I am hopeful serious consideration of additional reforms will continue, especially with respect to the sentencing of juveniles.’

Executive clemency is an act of mercy or leniency by the governor after a criminal conviction. Haslam has previously granted five commutations, 15 pardons, and one exoneration. Haslam continues to review and consider additional clemency requests.”

In response to the Governor’s executive order, Brown released her own statement of gratitude. 

“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 want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program. It changed my life. I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world.

Thank you to Dr. Richard Goode and Dr. Kate Watkins and all of you at Lipscomb University for opening up a whole new world for me. I have one course left to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which I will complete in May 2019.

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.

Thank you to my family for being a backbone these past 14 years.

I am thankful to my lawyers and their staffs, and all the others who, for the last decade have freely given of their time and expertise to help me get to this day.

I love all of you and will be forever grateful.

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.

Thank you.”

 

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