In 2004, at the age of just 16, Cyntoia Brown ran away from home and began living the life on the streets. She met a man called "Kut Throat" on the streets and from there, things only got worse. Kut Throat pimped the teen out to johns and forced her into survival sex work.
According to a 2011 documentary, her sexual encounters included rapes, assaults during and before sex, drugs and forced sex at the barrel of a gun.
This is the life the young girl was living when, on August 6, 2004, she was picked up by a 43-year-old real estate agent, Johnny Allen, who took her to his house to engage in sex with a minor. There, things went from terrible to horrific. Brown says Allen's house was full of guns. She began to fear that Allen would not only rape her but murder her so she decided to act. She grabbed a gun and shot him.
She was arrested shortly after and put on trial. Despite the fact that she was born to and raised by an addict, despite the fact that she had lived on the streets and then was forced into survival sex work by a violent pimp, and despite the fact that she was just 16 when she killed Allen in self-defense, the prosecution chose to try her as an adult. The Tennessee jury had convicted the then-16-year-old to life in prison, making her eligible for parole after 51 years of incarceration.
The case riled a sense of injustice around the country. And 14 years later people worldwide including stars like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and Lebron James are demanding justice. Unfortunately, those cries have fallen on deaf ears. This week, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the 2004 verdict saying she would have to complete the five decades of her sentence before having a chance of being released.
Tennessee law has since been changed, now no one 18 or under can be charged with prostitution and minors are no longer eligible for life in prison sentences. Unbelievably, even though these changes were spurred on by Brown's story, she cannot benefit from them.
One of her last remaining hopes is that outgoing Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will step in. As governor, he has the power to grant Brown clemency thereby allowing her to avoid serving the currently ridiculous 51-year sentence and allowing her early release.
This is one of her last chances at justice and Haslam can make it a reality. Please join Care2 in asking Gov. Bill Haslam to do the right thing and grant Cyntoia Brown clemency so she can finally be free.