Gov. Haslam Grants Clemency to Cyntoia Brown, Sets Aug. 7 Release Date for Woman Convicted of Murder at Age 16

Retiring Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday gave executive clemency to convicted murderer Cyntoia Brown by commuting her life sentence.

Brown will be released on Aug. 7 to parole supervision for a period of 10 years, Haslam said in a statement. She served 15 years in prison.

She was convicted as a teenager of killing a man while she said she was a sex trafficking victim at age 16, NBC News said.

In 2006, Brown was convicted by a Davidson County jury of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery for the 2004 murder of 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen, the governor’s office said. The incident occurred when Allen took Brown to his home.

She received a life sentence with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 51 years in prison, which means she would not have been eligible for parole consideration until 2055, at the earliest, without the governor’s action.

Brown said that she feared for her life and pulled a gun from her purse and shot Allen while in bed with him because she believed he was going for a gun, NBC News said. Brown, a runaway, lived with her 24-year-old boyfriend, a pimp known as “Kut Throat.” Brown said her pimp raped her and forced her into prostitution.

Prosecutors said Brown shot Allen in his sleep – he was found face down with his hands under his head – and said robbery was the motive, Fox News said. Brown stole Allen’s weapons and his money. Allen was a sharpshooter in the U.S. Army.

Brown’s case has drawn widespread attention in recent years. A documentary, Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, was released in 2011.

Haslam discussed his thoughts behind the clemency decision with The Tennessee Journal. The full interview is available here. The governor said he wanted to treat the case as any other despite the state receiving 100,000 phone calls because of celebrity attention, so many that people could not get through to sign up for TennCare:

Haslam: We thought about it a lot, and the governor does have incredible powers. You could say, I want her to [be] out in 15 minutes or anything. I think you start out with, what’s the right thing to do, and what’s the best thing in her situation. For us, it was 15 years. A lot people said, if that had happened today, she would have gotten 2nd degree, which would have been 15 to 25 years. And so that was one of the motivations of saying 15 years with 10 years’ probation.

Kim Kardashian West, one of the celebrities who advocated for Brown, tweeted in response to the clemency, “Thank you Governor Haslam.”

The Tennessee Board of Parole issued a positive recommendation to the governor in favor of granting Brown a commutation, the governor’s office said.

“While we have spent a considerable amount of time studying and implementing sentencing and criminal justice reform in our state, there is more work to be done,” Haslam said in the statement. “I am hopeful serious consideration of additional reforms will continue, especially with respect to the sentencing of juveniles.”

Executive clemency is an act of mercy or leniency by the governor after a criminal conviction. Haslam’s office said he has previously granted five commutations, 15 pardons and one exoneration.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo Cyntoia Brown by Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.








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4 Thoughts to “Gov. Haslam Grants Clemency to Cyntoia Brown, Sets Aug. 7 Release Date for Woman Convicted of Murder at Age 16”

  1. Proud Nashvillian

    Why didn’t she shoot “Kut Throat”?

  2. M. Flatt

    Like it or not, Miss Brown is a symbol, a talking point, in a larger conversation. Currently she stands right beside Daniel Hambrick as exhibits of the effects of the voice of the so-called “Black Community”. I am not sure how we go this way, but the past few years have shown an uptick in the “protests” from this group.
    Now that she is free, the next step is for her to make sure she stays that way. I hope she completed her studies in jail, and now is ready to be a “non-traditional student” in higher education. With so many people behind her, cheering her on, she has tons of support for that college degree. Maybe there’s a guy in all those supporters who can offer her a life of less strain.

  3. Kevin

    How is it that this girl “pulled a gun from her purse” on the victim, but never used it to free herself from the person who enslaved her, the pimp?

    But one thing is certain, IF truly the right thing to do is to grant clemency, then why did Governor Haslam wait until a few days before leaving office? To me, this seems like political wrangling at it’s finest!

    And rest assured that when Haslam runs for US Senator, he will call in those Kim Kardashian and Lebron James celebrity chits!

  4. Karen Bracken

    He caved to media pressure. So now every prostitute that kills a John should be set free. The evidence that this was clearly flat out murder is very clear. She may have been a child victim but murder is still murder. He posed no threat to her. He was shot in his sleep and she wasn’t tied to the bed. She could have gotten up and left. Haslam looked st nothing more than the press he would get from this pardon.