NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) Days before leaving office, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown.
Brown will be released to parole supervision on Aug. 7 after serving 15 years in prison. Brown was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a Nashville man in 2004. She was 16 at the time.
Gov. Haslam said his decision to grant Brown clemency comes after, “careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case.”
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According to a release, Brown was trapped in prostitution and a victim of child sex trafficking at the time when she shot and killed Jimmy Allen.
Allen picked up the then 16-year-old at the Sonic on Murfreesboro Pike and brought her home.
The two got into bed together and at some point, Brown killed Allen. She claimed self-defense, but prosecutors maintained that Brown killed the 43-year-old real estate agent in order to rob him.
“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,” Haslam said.
Brown’s case gained national attention after celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Gabrielle Union and Rihanna all showed their support for the young woman on social media.
Kardashian-West tweeted shortly after Haslam announced his decision saying, “Thank you, Governor Haslam.”
Several Tennessee lawmakers and pastors also pushed for Haslam to grant Brown clemency, saying it “is the right thing to do for this young woman.”
“I am deeply grateful to Governor Haslam for his decision to commute the sentence of Cyntoia Brown today. He has yet again demonstrated that mercy, redemption and forgiveness have an important place in our democracy and criminal justice system… This is a great day for social justice and our city,” Nashville Mayor David Briley said in a statement.
While jailed, Brown has earned her associate degree through the Lipscomb LIFE program with a 4.0 GPA. She is also expected to earn her bachelor’s degree later this year.