Cyntoia Brown, sentenced to spend life behind bars at age 16, is scheduled to leave the Tennessee Prison for Women next week. She served 15 years after a judge gave her the controversial life sentence in connection with a “john” who reportedly abused her.
Brown’s release comes after Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted her clemency earlier this year, which reportedly commuted her sentence to parole.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Brown will remain on parole for 10 years. She’ll also be required to perform community service, participate in counseling, and obtain work.
In 2004, Brown was convicted of killing Johnny Mitchell Allen, 43. Allen was reportedly a “john” who took Brown to his house after her abusive pimp boyfriend set her up for sex trafficking. Brown claimed Allen was being abusive and while scared for her life, she picked up his gun and shot him to death.
Brown, 16 at the time, was tried as an adult in the case.
Brown previously said her early childhood was filled with abuse and exposure to adults partaking in drugs. She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and her mother, Georgina Mitchell, allegedly began using crack cocaine when Brown was around eight months old, according to a 2011 documentary about Brown, entitled “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.”
“[Cyntoia] was a victim of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. She was on the tail end of three generations of women being abused. Her birth mother had been raped and Cyntoia was born from that rape,” filmmaker Dan Birman, who made the documentary, told FOX News.
When Brown was a toddler, Mitchell gave her up for adoption to a woman named Ellenette Brown. While Ellenette Brown provided a more stable home than Mitchell did, Brown never developed the stability she needed in her life, according to the documentary. When Brown was a teen, she ran away from home.
Brown made her way to Nashville, where an alleged pimp by the name of “Kutthroat” or “Cut-throat” quickly figured out that she was a runaway and on her own. He recruited her in with false promises of a better life, but eventually began calling her a “who**” and other insulting names.
He later allegedly raped her, molested her, and trafficked her for sex. The forced prostitution eventually landed her at Allen’s home after she met him at a Sonic fast-food restaurant in Nashville.
“He [Kutthroat] would explain to me that some people were born who***, and that I was one, and I was a slut, and nobody’d want me but him, and the best thing I could do was just learn to be a good who**,” Brown said to a judge a during a previous 2012 appeal hearing.
Brown said she met Allen on August 5, 2004, and right away had an uneasy feeling about him. She said Allen kept “standing over her” and later, while they were both in bed, she saw him reach over for what she thought was a gun. Brown said she shot Allen, a former sharpshooter in the U.S. Army, in the head, after fearing for her life.
Brown grabbed two guns from the man’s home, as well as his money before she fled. She ended up at a local Walmart, where she made an anonymous call to police and told them Allen had been shot. Prosecutors argued her motive was robbery, and subsequently, a jury agreed.
Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery in August 2006.
Six years later, Brown’s defense team pushed for a new trial after uncovering evidence about her childhood. In 2014, a state appeals court rejected the request.
In 2015, attorney Kathy Sinback met up with activists and lawmakers in an attempt to pass a law that would review life sentences given to children. In 2016, Tennessee rejected the proposed law, but 24 other states passed, inspired by Brown’s story.
In 2017, numerous celebrities, including, in part, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, began supporting Brown and pushing for her release.
In 2018, Tennessee’s Board of Parole held a clemency hearing for Brown, according to The New York Times. A year later, Haslam granted Brown clemency.
While behind bars, Brown earned a college degree from Lipscomb University’s LIFE program. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
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[Feature Photo: Cyntoia Brown via AP/The Tennessean, Pool]