Survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking ought to be supported rather than punished for violent acts committed by their abusers.
That is usually the call by activists for such domestic violence victims who have found themselves incarcerated largely through no fault of theirs. It is, therefore, not surprising the excitement that greeted the clemency granted to Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life for killing a man at the age of 16 after he allegedly solicited her for sex.
Brown, now 30, will be released to parole supervision on August 7 after serving 15 years in prison, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s office said in a statement.
“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
Brown’s case caught the attention of several Tennessee lawmakers, including a U.S. congressman, as well as, celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. This followed the release of a documentary which touched on Brown’s life story and the American criminal justice system
After being placed for adoption as a child, Brown, at 16, ran away from her adoptive family and started to live in a motel with a pimp who raped her and forced her into prostitution, according to the New York Times.
On August 8, 2004, Brown was arrested in connection with the shooting of a 43-year-old man, Johnny M. Allen. She told investigators that she killed Allen in self-defence after he paid her for sex and brought her to his house, where he went ahead to show her his collection of guns.
Despite her age, she was tried in an adult court and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until 2055. Thanks to widespread calls for Brown’s release, she will finally be getting out of jail in August.
Here are other victims who gained freedom or clemency thanks to people’s activism: