Cyntoia Brown has finally been granted clemency and is set to be released from prison on August 7 after serving 15 years of her original life sentence.
On Monday morning, Haslam announced his decision to grant clemency to Brown, the Nashville woman who was imprisoned at the age of 16 for killing a child predator who paid her for sex.
“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Haslam said in a statement according to the Tennessean. “Yet, 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.”
“Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions,” he added.
Brown is now eligible for release August 7 on time served and will stay on parole for 10 years. As the Tennessean notes, she will also be required “to participate in regular counseling sessions and to perform at least 50 hours of community service, including working with at-risk youth,” as well as get a job.
Upon hearing the announcement, Brown released the following statement via her legal team:
“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. 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.I am thankful for all the support, prayers, and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings. The Lord has held my hand this whole time and I would have never made it without Him. Let today be a testament to His Saving Grace. Thank you to my family for being a backbone these past 14 years. I am thankful to my lawyers and their staffs, and all the others who, for the last decade have freely given of their time and expertise to help me get to this day. I love all of you and will be forever grateful.With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people. My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been. Thank you.”
Last month, Haslam granted clemency to 11 people but Brown wasn’t one of those included. Prior to that he offered a new statement on clemency for Brown, saying: “The Cyntoia case has gotten a lot of publicity understandably, but again we want to make certain we’re treating everybody fairly in this.”
Haslam made the decision before leaving office on January 19.