We started the second week of the new year with amazing news. Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison at 16 years old has been granted clemency! This means her life sentence has been commuted down to supervised parole and she will be released from prison. This is the type of criminal justice reform we like to see.
Cyntoia was sentenced to life for the murder of Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old man who Cyntoia says purchased her for sex at a Walmart parking lot. She became a victim of sex trafficking, but in 2004 she was battling with a Tennessee justice system who only saw her as a murderer and not a victim of sex trafficking trying to protect herself. Brown’s case gained popularity after the 2011 documentary Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story aired on PBS. Ever since its premiere, the people have been a voice for her freedom and bigger reforms in the criminal justice system. She gained support from activists like Tarana Burke, leader of the #metoo movement, and celebrities like Rihanna.This is an example of what #powerthroughpeople really is. Let’s keep the same energy going in 2019. Activism works!
So what does this mean for Cyntoia’s future? She has an official release date of August 7, 2019. In May, prior to her release, she will receive her Bachelor’s Degree, which she hopes to use to advocate against the global sex trafficking epidemic and provide counseling to youth. With this high-profile case and the recent passage of the First Step Act, a sweeping federal criminal justice reform bill, good progress has been made but so much more still needs to be done. Moving forward, we hope to see more fair trials among minorities and women of color.
We admire Cyntoia’s diligence in obtaining her college degree while imprisoned but we want to help today’s youth by supplying the proper resources and guidance to receive their degrees without having to do so behind bars. To learn about and take action to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline, text ENDS2P to 52886 or go here.