Gov. Haslam grants clemency to Cyntoia Brown, to be released Aug. 7

Tennessee
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday he is commuting Cyntoia Brown’s sentence of life in prison to supervised parole.

Brown was convicted in 2006 in Davidson County of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the 2004 murder of Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen after then-16-year-old Brown was picked up by Allen and taken to his home.

Her original sentence was life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 51 years in prison, which means she would not have been eligible for parole until 2055 at the earliest.

“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 Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.  Transformation should be accompanied by hope.  So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”

Brown will be released from prison on August 7, 2019, and will remain on supervised parole for 10 years. Her parole conditions will require that she not violate any state or federal laws and she must meet certain other conditions including employment, education, counseling and community engagement.

Her legal team held a press conference Monday following Gov. Haslam’s announcement.

Watch the full press conference here:

Statement from Cyntoia Brown:

Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance.  I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.

I want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program. It changed my life.  I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world.

Thank you to Dr. Richard Goode and Dr. Kate Watkins and all of you at Lipscomb University for opening up a whole new world for me. I have one course left to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which I will complete in May 2019.

I am thankful for all the support, prayers, and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings.  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.

Thank you to my family for being a backbone these past 14 years.

I am thankful to my lawyers and their staffs, and all the others who, for the last decade have freely given of their time and expertise to help me get to this day.

I love all of you and will be forever grateful.

With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people.  My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.

Thank you.

Statement from Brown’s legal team:

We applaud Governor Haslam’s decision to grant clemency to Cyntoia. This is truly a joyful moment – for Cyntoia and for all of us who have worked to help her.

The governor’s decision is proof that our justice system works and it marks the beginning of a new chapter for Cyntoia. Her journey began in despair but was rewritten by her as one of hope and anticipation. Her transformation, when given the opportunity, is nothing short of miraculous. She is truly a remarkable young woman with so much to offer this world and will now have that chance.

This long emotional journey has touched and inspired so many people. We want to thank everyone who believed in Cyntoia and helped us get to this day. But most of all, we want to thank Governor Haslam and his legal team. Without them this day would not be possible.

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