Cyntoia Brown Granted Clemency: “We Truly Serve A God of Second Chances”
The day before the first gathering of the 111th General Assembly, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said Monday he was granting clemency to Cyntoia Brown.
If you remember the story which has been making headlines again lately, the 30-year-old Brown, said in 2004, she was forced into prostitution and scared for her life when she shot Nashville real estate Johnny Allen.
Haslam’s announcement, which was quickly met with praise from Democrats, comes less than two weeks before he exits office. He is also in the midst of weighing a possible bid for the U.S. Senate in 2020.
“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said.
In 2004, Brown killed Johnny Mitchell Allen, who Brown said had solicited her for sex and taken her back to his house.
Prosecutors at the time said Brown shot Allen in the head while he was sleeping, stole money and guns, took his truck, and fled the scene. They argued the killing wasn’t motivated by self-defense, but robbery.
Brown said she was scared for her life by Allen’s behavior, and took money for fear of returning empty-handed to her pimp, nicknamed “Cut Throat.”
A juvenile court found Brown competent to be tried as an adult. She was convicted of murder and robbery, and sentenced to life in prison.
Though more than a decade had passed since her trial, the harsh punishment for a teenage victim of sex trafficking sparked outrage around the US — particularly after celebrities Rihanna and Kardashian West came to her defense on social media in 2017. She would not have been eligible for parole until she had served for 51 years.
A message from Brown was read aloud during a news conference hosted by her legal team Monday morning.
“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.
So what does Clemency mean?
While the term “clemency” is sometimes used interchangeably with “pardon” and “commutation,” there are several differences between them.
According to the Executive Clemency Board, the various forms of clemency include:
Commutation: Substitution of a lesser sentence for a greater sentence.
Pardon: Statement of forgiveness. Does not delete conviction from record.
Exoneration: Declaration of Innocence that requires written legal documentation. Conviction is deleted from record.
Reprieves: Request to delay the impending punishment or sentence.
So since this was a commutation and not an exoneration, the charges will still remain on Brown’s record.
Since Brown’s conviction, juvenile sentencing guidelines in Tennessee have been amended:
“If Cyntoia Brown were tried today, legal experts say she would not have been tried in the same way,” said WZTV anchor Stacy Case to CNN, who had been…