Tennessee Governor Grants Clemency for Cyntoia Brown – Rolling Stone
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Tennessee Governor Grants Clemency for Cyntoia Brown

“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,” Bill Haslam says

Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, smiles at family members during her clemency hearing Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, Tenn. It is her first bid for freedom before a parole board since the 2004 crime. (Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

The governor of Tennessee announced that he has granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown: "Imposing a life sentence on a juvenile... is too harsh."

Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean/AP

The governor of Tennessee announced Monday that he has granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2004 murder of a 43-year-old man who had solicited her for sex when she was 16 years old.

In December, after the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Brown must serve her life imprisonment, Governor Bill Haslam announced he would weigh commuting the sentence for Brown before he left office in mid-January; Bill Lee, the governor-elect in Tennessee, assumes office on January 19th.

“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said Monday in a statement announcing the executive clemency.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. Yet, 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. Transformation should be accompanied by hope.”

Brown, who has already spent 15 years in prison, will be released on August 7th to parole supervision until 2029, “at which point Brown’s sentence will expire.”

The high-profile case drew advocates like Kim Kardashian-West and comedian Amy Schumer, who both lobbied for Brown’s clemency.

The Tennessee Board of Parole previously issued a positive recommendation to Haslam in favor of granting Brown a commutation.

“While we have spent a considerable amount of time studying and implementing sentencing and criminal justice reform in our state, there is more work to be done,” Haslam said. “I am hopeful serious consideration of additional reforms will continue, especially with respect to the sentencing of juveniles.”

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