Cyntoia Brown, convicted at 16, granted clemency after killing man who picked her up for sex

By Kallie Cox, Staff Reporter

Cyntoia Brown, a woman from Tennessee who was serving a life sentence for killing a man who picked her up for sex in 2004, was granted clemency by exiting Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Monday.

Brown’s case went viral and sparked national interest in 2017 when celebrities, the ACLU and thousands on social media began writing to Brown and pleading for her to be granted clemency.

Brown was 16 when Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent, picked her up at a Sonic Drive-In after agreeing to pay her $150 for a sex act and took her to his home in Nashville, Tennessee, Slate journalist Molly Olmstead reports

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Brown said she feared for her life. After he fell asleep, Brown shot him with a gun from her purse, took money and two guns from Allen and then fled with his truck.

After this hearing, the court decided Brown should be tried as an adult. Brown was then sentenced to life with no chance of parole until she had served at least 51 years.

“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,” Haslam said in a statement released earlier today. “Transformation should be accompanied by hope.”

PBS aired a documentary on Brown’s case in 2011 called “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story,” and in 2012 the Supreme Court ruled life sentences for juveniles without parole constitutes as cruel and unusual punishment.

Brown is set to be released on Aug. 7 and will remain on parole for 10 years.

“With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people,” Brown said in a statement released by her lawyers. “My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.”

Staff reporter Kallie Cox can be reached by email at [email protected] 

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