Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said he is carefully considering a clemency request for Cyntoia Brown.
The ray of hope comes days after the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Cyntoia must serve 51 years in prison before she’s eligible for parole.
Via Rolling Stone:
Prosecutors said that Brown went with Johnny Mitchell Allen with the intent to rob him, but she and her lawyers insisted that she shot Allen in self-defense because she thought he was going to kill her.
She also said she went home with him to have sex for money on the orders of her abusive boyfriend, who beat her and forced her into prostitution.
In her appeal, she said that she only took money from the victim’s wallet after he was dead because she was afraid of what would happen if she went back to her boyfriend empty-handed.
Governor Haslam was speaking at an event about higher education on Monday when Justin Lang, a higher-education professional and member of Black Lives Matter Nashville, applied pressure on him to grant Cyntoia clemency during a Q&A session.
Justin was stern and precise as he questioned the governor:
Since we’re here talking about education, I wanted to ask a question about one of your Tennessee students and a graduate of Lipscomb University, Cyntoia Brown.
As a victim of sex trafficking and assault, this is an unjust sentence in the first place. She has not been treated as a victim of trafficking and not given the justice she deserves.
The Supreme Court’s decision that Cyntoia must serve 51 years before she can be considered for parole is a human rights issue and so I ask you, what really, functionally, is the difference between life without parole — which is no longer constitutional as the United States Supreme Court declared for minors, for any crime — and ‘you might get parole after 51 years,’ for a victim of sex trafficking?
And so I ask why has Cyntoia Brown been incarcerated for 14 years for enduring harm? And so I say Governor Haslam, you have the power and ability to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown, and so I ask when will you grant her clemency, I ask what will be your legacy as you leave office, and how will you answer to this human rights violation that the state of Tennessee is committing by keeping her incarcerated?
Governor Haslam responded saying that his office is reviewing Cyntoia Brown’s case and he will have a decision on whether or not he will grant her clemency within the next six weeks before he leaves office.
We’re reviewing a lot of cases and while Cyntoia’s case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don’t think you want us to treat hers any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review.
Advocates for Cyntoia are encouraging people to call the governor’s office to encourage them to grant Cyntoia Brown clemency.
Jada Pinkett Smith took to social media on Wednesday morning to join the movement.
Do you think Bill Haslam will grant Cyntoia clemency?