Cyntoia Brown was released from prison early Wednesday morning, after being granted clemency seven months ago by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Brown was initially sentenced to life in prison [in 2006] after killing a 43-year-old man who solicited her for sex when she was 16. According to court documents, Johnny M. Allen picked up Ms. Brown at a restaurant in Nashville, and drove her to his home after she agreed to engage in sexual activity for $150. Brown testified that while they were in his bedroom, she thought he was reaching for a gun to kill her. She shot him in his sleep with a handgun that had been in her purse, took money and two guns and fled.
Haslam said that a life sentence was too harsh for a crime Brown admitted to committing as a teen, especially considering the steps she took while in prison to rebuild her life. [She earned her GED and received her associate degree from Lipscomb University as an inmate.]
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna brought national attention to Cyntoia's case as they advocated for her release, asserting that she was a victim of child sex trafficking and was wrongly convicted.
"I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord's help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud," Brown said in a statement released Monday. Her attorneys said she's requesting privacy and transition time before she makes herself available to the public.
Cyntoia, who is now 31, will remain on parole supervision for 10 years after her release, on the condition that she is employed, participates in regular counseling sessions, maintains a regular commitment to community service, and does not violate any state or federal laws.