Update, December 22, 2018: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has released the names of the 11 people he granted clemency to on Thursday, and Cyntoia Brown was not on the list.
Haslam said in a statement, "These individuals have made positive contributions to their communities and deserve pardons, or are individuals who will receive another chance to become contributing members of society by virtue of their commutations.”
This story was originally published on December 20, 2018.
On Monday night, racial justice organization Color Of Change announced that it had partnered with several other organizations, including the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo Movement and the Highlander Center, to launch a new website dedicated to appealing to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to grant Brown, now 30, clemency.
The movement to secure Brown’s freedom has been picking up steam nationally as of late, with prominent celebrities including Rihanna, Ashley Judd and Kim Kardashian lending their names and star legal teams to the cause. And apparently that zeal also extends to the less-famous folks eager to see Brown freed: In a press release, Color Of Change said that a national call it had hosted on Monday night had over 1200 registrants.
In a statement, Color Of Change senior campaign director Scott Roberts said that the organization had joined others in launching freecyntoiabrown.org because “survivors of violence deserve protection, not imprisonment.”
“We cannot continue to live in a world where survivors and young people are being harshly punished with zero regard for the trauma and life experiences they have endured,” Roberts said. “Elected leaders have a duty to ensure justice, and with Governor Haslam leaving office by early next year, he must immediately ensure that Cyntoia receives the justice she rightfully deserves.”
Legal experts have argued that a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, which deemed mandatory life sentences for juveniles without the possibility of parole unconstitutional, should be retroactively applied to Brown’s case, which was decided in 2004.
Haslam, who leaves office next month to make way for incoming Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who is also a Republican, said previously that he is “reviewing every aspect” of the case, but has yet to reach a final decision on whether or not to grant Brown clemency.