After serving fifteen years of a life sentence for killing a man who picked her up for sex while she was being trafficked as a teenager, Cyntoia Brown is scheduled to be released on Aug. 7
Brown was granted clemency thanks, in part, to celebrity activists, including Rihanna, Gabrielle Union and Kim Kardashian, calling national attention to her plight and arguing the case was a prime example of a broken justice system.
According to a release, in 2004, Brown was a victim of child sex trafficking and trapped in the world of prostitution when 43-year-old real estate agent Jimmy Allen picked her up and brought her to his home.
The two got into bed together, and, during the encounter, Brown, then 16, killed Allen. She claimed self-defense, but prosecutors maintained Brown wanted to rob the man.
"Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," outgoing Tennessee Governor Bill 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."
Since being jailed, Brown, now 30, has earned her associate degree with a 4.0 GPA, and she is expected to complete her bachelor's degree later this year.
In a statement released by her lawyers, Brown thanked Haslam for his "act of mercy" in giving her "a second chance."
"I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me," she added.
Brown will be required to participate in regular counseling sessions and to perform at least 50 hours of community service, including working with at-risk youth. According to her statement, that's exactly what she wants to do.
"With God's help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people," she noted. "My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been."
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