At only 16 years old, Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life for the murder of a man. Victim of forceful prostitution at the time of the crime, she received support from many stars and activists and has now been set free.

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A 16-year-old tried as an adult

Cyntoia Brown was 16 in 2006 when was convicted of killing 43-year-old Johnny Michael Allen. The teenager pleaded guilty to the crime but explained that she was forced into prostitution and abused by a pimp named Kutthroat, and got scared when she thought her client was reaching for a weapon. The prosecution said the homicide was premeditated because Cyntoia Brown was planning on robbing Johnny Allen.

After serving 15 years of her life sentence, Cyntoia Brown has been granted clemency by former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and has finally been released on Wednesday. She will be on parole for 10 years. 

Support from celebrities

Cyntoia Brown’s name is known by many, because her case has caught the attention of activists, especially in the sex workers’ rights community, and high-profile celebrities, mostly through the 2011 documentary entitled Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story by Daniel Birman. They took action to free her because they believed that the system failed Cyntoia Brown, a victim of sex trafficking, and was wrong in trying her as an adult when she was only 16. In November 2017, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian used the #FreeCyntoiaBrown on Twitter. Snoop Dogg and Cara Delevingne are among other stars who got invested in freeing Brown. A petition was even started, asking for the president to pardon Cyntoia Brown, and gathered more than 675,000 signatures.

This is not the first time the American public and some celebrities denounce the US judiciary system, accusing it of favoring whites over minorities and rich or poor. Kim Kardashian already fought for and, in June 2018, obtained the release of Alice Marie Johnson, an African American first-time drug offender sentenced to life in 1996.

Article by Juliette Cardinale