Cyntoia Brown will finally walk as a free woman when she is released from jail on August 7. Brown, now 31, has spent half of her life behind bars.
Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted Brown clemency eight months ago after being sentenced to life in prison in connection with the killing of a Nashville man who Brown said had solicited her for sex.
Brown’s fight for justice caught national attention. According to Brown, she was raped and forced into prostitution by a pimp and ended up killing one of her clients out of self-defense. Though only 16 at the time, she was tried as an adult and given a life sentence.
The ridiculously harsh punishment for a teenage girl sparked outrage across the country – particularly after celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West came to her defense on social media in 2017.
Rihanna posted on social media: “Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named ‘cut-throat.’ After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men you were purchased by a 43-year-old child predator who took you to his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him. Your (sic) arrested as (sic) result tried and convicted as an adult and sentenced to life in prison,” Rihanna’s post continues. “This is the story of Cyntoia Brown. She will be eligible for parole when she is 69 years old.”
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did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause….. Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! 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! #FREECYNTOIABROWN #HowManyMore
While in prison, Brown focused on improving herself. She received her associate degree from Lipscomb University in 2015 and, according to The Tennessean, obtained a bachelor’s degree in the Tennessee Prison for Women in May. Brown has also dedicated her life in prison to helping other young traumatized women.
She works with the Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System to help counsel young people at risk.
“She is light years today, as a woman, different from the traumatized 16-year-old that she was,” Derri Smith, founder and CEO of non-profit End Slavery Tennessee, said last January. “She’s mentoring … troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a nonprofit so she can help other young people.”