In a life or death situation there’s only one thing that matters to you, and that is living. The sad, cold, and hurtful truth of Cyntoia Brown who at just 16 years old had already been through more trauma than any teenager, or any person, should have to ever endure. Just had run away from her adoptive parents, Brown had resulted into sex work to survive. One evening at a Sonic Drive-In, she met with a stranger on an agreed date of $150 when things went south at the location where they’d share a room together. Lying down next to a man which she feared for her life, she shot the 43-year old in self-defense. Unfortunately charged as an adult at the tender age of 16 years old she was sentenced to life in prison.
Her story sparked national outrage when Kim Kardashian-West and Rihanna both spoke out demanding justice be brought to light in her case. Having already spent 15 years behind bars, governor Bill Haslam was under pressure to review the rights of the at the time underage Cyntoia. In result, Haslam commuted Brown’s sentencing to 15 years from the date of her 2004 arrest for the murder of Johnny M. Allen. Haslam made the statement before her release Wednesday morning, she had committed a “horrific crime at the age of 16,” but “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.” Those milestone accomplishments included Cyntoia earning the equivalence of a High School Diploma and an Associates Degree, with a 4.0 GPA, prompting a true fresh start ahead of the transition and new life for Brown.