Speed Reads

criminal justice

Cyntoia Brown granted clemency 15 years after 'tragic and complex' murder sentence

Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison 15 years ago. But on Aug. 7, the 30-year-old will be released on parole after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) granted her clemency on Monday.

Brown killed Johnny Allen, whom she says solicited her for sex, when she was 16. She was later tried as an adult and convicted of his murder and robbery. Prosecutors argued she "stole money and guns" while Allen was sleeping, meaning the shooting wasn't in self defense, CNN writes. Brown has been in a Tennessee jail ever since, and wouldn't be eligible for parole until after she'd served at least 51 years, Haslam said in his Monday statement.

After a 2011 documentary, though, celebrities took notice of Brown's case. LeBron James, Kim Kardashian West, and hundreds of thousands of petitioners called for the state to #FreeCyntoiaBrown, NBC News notes. That attention likely spurred the Tennessee Board of Parole to look at Brown's "tragic and complex case" case and recommend her commutation to Haslam, the governor noted Monday. He also called the sentencing "too harsh" for a juvenile and mentioned that Brown earned a GED and associate degree while in prison.

Brown will be on parole for 10 years after her August release, will have to get a job, and will have to participate in community service, among other conditions, per Haslam's statement. Brown released a statement thanking Haslam for his "act of mercy" and promised to "help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been," NBC affiliate WSMV shares. Haslam's decision comes just days before he leaves office at the end of his two-term limit.

Editor's note: This article was revised for clarity since it was first published.