Cyntoia Brown will finally be released from the Tennessee Prison for Women next week after serving 15 years of a life sentence for a 2004 murder, according to USA Today.
Eight months after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted her clemency, Brown will walk free next Wednesday. Brown was 16 year-old when she was convicted for the murder of Johnny Mitchell Allan, a real estate agent, who solicited sex from her.
Cyntoia Brown and her lawyers fought the life-sentence ruling by filing a lawsuit that claimed the sentence was unconstitutional; however, the Tennessee Supreme Court still decided that she serve a 51 year sentence before being eligible for parole.
Now 31 years-old, she has spent nearly half of her life in prison for a crime committed in self-defense. Her case garnered national attention with celebrity advocates like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna calling for justice.
According to reports, Brown was picked up in Nashville by Allan and was taken back to his house where she felt he was about to become violent after he showed her his gun collection. Brown admitted that she later shot the man with a handgun she had in her purse.
Brown was forced into prostitution as a child and experienced physical abuse from her pimp. Even though prosecutors had much of this information, Brown was still charged with first degree murder as an adult.
During the 15 years Brown spent behind bars, she has continued her education by getting her GED and associates degree. Although her release will be a joyous moment for many people around the country, Brown will still have to overcome life after prison.
The terms of her release will require her to report to a parole officer until August 2029, stay employed, get counseling and participate in community service, according to USA Today.
“I am thankful for all the support, prayers, and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings,” Brown said in a statement released in January. “The Lord has held my hand this whole time and I would have never made it without Him. Let today be a testament to His Saving Grace.”
If Cyntoia Brown had not been granted clemency this year, she would not be eligible for parole until 2055. Due to the positive recommendations from Gov. Haslam and changes in Tennessee law, next week, Brown’s freedom will speak volumes.
[via Essence Magazine]