Cyntoia Brown remains behind bars, incarcerated deep within the bowels of Nashville at the Tennessee Prison for Women, as she has been since she was sentenced to life in prison back in 2004 at the age of 16 for shooting dead a 43-year-old real estate agent named Johnny Mitchell Allen.
In early December, the Tennessee Supreme court voted unanimously that she must serve 51 years of her life sentence before she is eligible for parole.
Now in breaking news, the Tennessean reports that Governor Bill Haslam has signed orders for her early release and a commuted sentence..
“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," Haslam said in a statement. "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.”
Enraged at the perceived injustice, a growing number of celebrities — including Rihanna, LeBron James, Snoop Dogg, Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian West — have taken to their social media platforms to bring attention to Brown's cause and what they claim is the truth behind her tragic story.
The post that has gone viral shows 16-year-old Brown in her orange prison uniform awaiting sentencing, with this summary of her heartbreaking situation:
"Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named "cut-throat." After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men you were purchased by a 43 year old child predator who took you to his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him.
Your (sic) arrested as result tried and convicted as an adult and sentenced to life in prison.
This is the story of Cyntoia Brown, She will be eligible for parole when she is 69 years old. #FreeCyntoiaBrown"
To which Rihanna added:
"did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause..... Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!"
The full story behind Brown's case is troubling, brutal, complex, and tragic.
Here are 11 most awful details and facts about who Cyntoia Brown is and the inhumane incarceration that explains why so many A-list celebrities demanded we all pay attention.
1. She was either a prostitute or a victim of child sex-trafficking
Conflicting reports alternatively refer to 24-year-old drug dealer and armed robber Garion McGlothen, aka "Kutthroat," as her boyfriend o pimp.
Some reports claim he put her to work in the "Murfreesboro Road red-light district turning tricks for coke money."
Whether Brown's involvement should garner her the label of either prostitute or sex slave, her advocates state, is irrelevant, because, as Derri Smith of End Slavery TN explains,“[There's] no such thing as a child prostitute or a teen prostitute."
Brown stated that she went to live with "Kut" for a period of approximately three weeks in, during which they moved from hotel to hotel. When asked why she didn't leave after she shared stories of being beaten, choken, raped, and forced at gunpoint to have sex with other people, Cyntoia responded:
"You're not listening. I made him money. He wasn't going to let me go nowhere. He told me he'd kill me. He knows where my mom lives. And I know if a dude choked me until I almost passed out he's not afraid to kill me."
In her testimony she stated, “He would explain to me that some people were born whores, and that I was one, and I was a slut, and nobody’d want me but him, and the best thing I could do was just learn to be a good whore.”
2. The circumstances surrounding Allen's death
As reported by the Associated Press, Kutthroat "forced her to prostitute herself so that they would have money to live, she said. On the day she met Allen — Aug. 5, 2004 — the man she called Cut had hit her and told her to go out and bring back some money."
"[Allen] showed her his gun collection, telling her he was a former Army sharpshooter. It made her nervous, she noted later. Cyntoia ate dinner with him, watched some TV, and got into his bed. 'He grabbed me in-between my legs — he just grabbed it real hard,' she told the trial court. 'I'm thinking he's going to hit me or do something like it...' Then Allen