Tennessee Governor will give answer on Cyntoia Brown’s clemency before he leaves office
This Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced his office will review sex trafficking survivor Cyntoia Brown’s case and decide whether to grant her clemency before he leaves office.At 16, Cyntoia Brown was convicted of first degree murder and given a life sentence for killing 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen who was trafficking her for sex. Brown and her lawyers have consistently argued that killing Allen was an act of self-defense and that Brown only went with him to gain money for an abusive boyfriend. However, prosecutors say Brown killed him to rob him.
According to CNN, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Brown must serve a minimum of 51 years before she can be considered for release. The Thursday ruling was a response to Brown’s lawyers who argued that her life sentence was unconstitutional under a precedent set by the US Supreme Court in a ruling stating juveniles cannot be given life sentences without a chance for parole.
Haslam’s Monday announcement came after Justin Lang, a Black Lives Matter activist, questioned him about Brown’s case at an event centered around higher education.
According to Essence, Lang asked, “As a victim of sex trafficking and assault, this is an unjust sentence in the first place… She has not been treated as a victim of trafficking and not given the justice she deserves.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision that Cyntoia must serve 51 years before she can be considered for parole is a human rights issue,” he continues. “I ask why has Cyntoia Brown been incarcerated for 14 years for enduring harm? And so I say 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?”
Haslam responded, “We’re reviewing a lot of cases and while Cyntoia’s case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don’t think you want us to treat hers any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review.”
He added that his office will provide an answer on Brown’s clemency before he leaves.