Cyntoia Brown was serving life in prison in Tennessee for fatally defending herself as a teenager was released from prison this morning. Celebrities to social media has been advocating for her and they are now reacting with joy.
She was only 16 years old when she shot and killed Johnny Mitchell Allen, 43, in self-defense. Brown was arrested in 2004 after she thought Allen was reaching for a gun when he tried to solicit her for sex. Prosecutors argued she wanted to rob him and was not defending herself. After being tried as an adult, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006.
Due in part to outrage on social media and attention from celebrities including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, Brown’s story went viral. Rihanna wrote on Instagram nearly two years ago, “Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named ‘cut-throat.’ After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men you were purchased by a 43-year-old child predator who took you to his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him.”
Her case went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which ruled last month that she couldn’t become eligible for parole until she served at least 50 years in prison. However, she was granted clemency by then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
Back in January, Brown said in a statement, “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me. I want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program. It changed my life. I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world.”
She continued, “Thank you to Dr. Richard Goode and Dr. Kate Watkins and all of you at Lipscomb University for opening up a whole new world for me. I have one course left to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which I will complete in May 2019.”
Brown will be on parole for the next 10 years.
See the reactions to her release below: