Governor Grants Clemency to Sex Trafficking Victim Serving Life Sentence for Murder

Tennessee’s governor has granted clemency to a woman serving a life sentence for murder whose case had become a national rallying point for activists fighting against sex trafficking.

Cyntoia Brown has said she was a victim of sex trafficking when she was convicted in 2004 of murdering a man who had picked her up for sex when she was 16 years old.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said Monday that Brown would be released from prison on Aug. 7 and will remain on parole for 10 years.

“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said.

Brown, who is now 30, has served nearly 15 years in prison.

She said in a statement Monday that she will do everything she can to justify the governor’s faith in her. She also thanked her family for their support.

Brown’s case has drawn the support of several celebrities, including reality star Kim Kardashian West, singer Rihanna and comedian Amy Schumer.

In 2004, Brown killed Johnny Allen, who Brown said had solicited her for sex and taken her back to his house.

Prosecutors argued that Brown shot Allen in the head while he was sleeping and stole his money. Brown said she feared for her life and took the money because she feared returning to her pimp empty-handed.

Advocates for Brown say she has transformed herself while in prison. She received her associate degree in 2015 and has been working toward a bachelor’s degree. She has also been working with Tennessee’s juvenile justice system to help young people at risk.

In his clemency statement, Haslam noted “the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life,” and said “transformation should be accompanied by hope.”