Following last week’s Tennessee Supreme Court decision that Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years in prison before she is eligible for parole, there has been a renewed focus on the hope that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will grant her clemency.
Brown was convicted in 2006 of the first degree murder of a 43-year-old man who had solicited her for sex when she was 16. Her case gained the attention of celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and LeBron James. A MoveOn.org petition urging clemency has nearly 600,000 signatures.
In an post on Instagram, incoming U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley expressed her thoughts on what she described as Brown’s “unjust sentencing” saying “no one — especially a child — should be criminalized for surviving the the traumatic ordeal of sex trafficking."
And while speaking recently at an event on the importance of education, Gov. Haslam said that Brown’s case is one of many his office is looking at and that he will have an decision on her case before he leaves office in six weeks.
Rolling Stone reports that his comment came after Justin Liang, a member of Black Lives Matter Nashville, took the mic during the audience Q&A portion of the event saying, “Since we’re here talking about education, I wanted to ask a question about one of your Tennessee students and a graduate of Lipscomb University, Cyntoia Brown.”
Brown earned her associates degree from Lipscomb while incarcerated.
Despite attempts to interrupt him by moderators, Liange continued, “... why has Cyntoia Brown been incarcerated for 14 years for enduring harm? And so I say Governor Haslam, you have the power and ability to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown, and so I ask when will you grant her clemency, I ask what will be your legacy as you leave office, and how will you answer to this human rights violation that the state of Tennessee is committing by keeping her incarcerated?”
The governor responded saying “We’re reviewing a lot of cases, and while Cyntoia’s case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don’t think you want us to treat hers any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review.” He reiterated his pledge to have a decision before he leaves office.
Everyone interested in encouraging Haslam to grant Brown clemency can call his office at (615) 741-2001.
#FreeCyntoia by calling TN Governor to grant clemency and free her before leaving office. Call, write letters & send emails:— Cornell William Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) December 10, 2018
Governor Bill Haslam
1st Floor, State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243
JUSTICE and MERCY are not too much to ask. @Essence @TeenVogue @AP pic.twitter.com/aUkqAailtb