Cyntoia Brown was 16 years old when she was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The man killed was a 43 year old who had solicited the minor for sex. According to Cyntoia she went with him because her 24 year old pimp Kutthroat made her do it. She shot the man in a moment where she feared for her life. She robbed the man because she was afraid to go back to Kutthroat without money from the encounter.
Under Tennessee law, all minors engaged in sex work are legally considered victims of sex trafficking.
Ms. Brown was tried as an adult. She has to serve 51 years before she can be considered for parole.
According to CNN "In 2012, a US Supreme Court ruling...banned mandatory life without parole for juveniles, stating it was unconstitutional. However, Brown's conviction does carry the possibility of parole -- when Brown is 69 years old." Therefore the Supreme Court ruling doesn't apply to her. Therefore a young woman's life is being wasted due to a technicality.
Cyntoia Brown is Black. Imagine if she were White and her name was Cyndy Bright. A White 16 year old girl killed a 43 year old man who solicited the minor for sex. Her abusive 24 year old pimp's name was Kutthroat. Would she be tried as an adult? Would she be serving life?
The Tennessean states that "she's been described as a model prisoner since she was placed behind bars, even mentoring other women and getting her GED and her Associate Degree from Lipscomb University."
She has served 14 years. Imagine what she will contribute if she is released.
Tennessee's Governor Bill Haslam stated that his office is reviewing her case. He is leaving office in 6 weeks and he can grant her clemency. You can call his office and share her thoughts.
I am going to quote Justin Lang; A Black Lives Matter advocate who spoke up at an event the Governor attended:
"Governor Haslam, you have the power and ability to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown, and so I ask when will you grant her clemency. I ask what will be your legacy as you leave office and how will you answer to this human rights violation that the state of Tennessee is committing by keeping her incarcerated?”
The Governor's phone number is 615-741-2001.
Ms. Brown case is at the surface of a depth of injustice against women of color in the system. Her case has gotten attention and I can't help but think of all the young women whose stories haven't not been circulated on social media. It's sickening to imagine.
At least there's something we can do for one. Here. Now.