Social Media Revives Intrest in the Cyntoia Brown Story
Updated: Dec 18, 2018
Do you remember the buzz surrounding the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown? During that time, you could not move in any direction on social media without seeing information about 16 year old Cyntoia Brown. Until now, we have not heard much about her case as she is now 30 years old. It is quite sad how we moved on as this juvenile, turned an adult, has been sentenced to a minimum of 51 years in prison. How can this be fair?
Tennessee's Contradictory Sentencing Laws
You can find a lot out about the Cyntoia Brown case with a simple Google Search. I am not a lawyer, but the most disturbing element of this case that I can find is the contradiction in the laws in Tennessee as it relates to sentencing young people.
Vibe magazine wrote the following:
"Brown was convicted in 2006 of first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated robbery. Prosecutors claimed that the then 16-year-old Brown shot and killed Allen, who drove her back to his home and paid her for sex, during a murder robbery. Brown maintains that she shot Allen in self-defense. The trial court merged Brown's convictions, handing down a mandatory life sentence."
Tennessee Law states the following:
Under Tennessee law, any person sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole must serve an automatic 51 years behind bars before being eligible for release.
State attorneys argued that because Tennessee law would allow Brown to pursue parole after 51 years behind bars, when she is in her late 60s, she is not truly serving a life sentence.
The Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion is as follows:
"The Sixth Circuit requested the Tennessee Supreme Court to answer the question of whether a defendant convicted of first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 1995, and sentenced to life in prison will become eligible for release and, if so, after how many years of imprisonment. Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 23 permits the Court to answer requests that involve questions of Tennessee law that are determinative of the cause of action and about which there is no controlling Tennessee precedent.
In today’s unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court explained that, under state law, a life sentence is a determinate sentence of 60 years. However, the sixty-year sentence can be reduced by up to 15 percent, or 9 years, by earning various sentence credits. Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that a defendant serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 1995, may be eligible for release after serving at least 51 years of the sentence."
The case itself is getting a lot of media coverage again, which is great. But the real question is how can someone help to truly get Cyntoia Brown free.
Question we still have about the case:
1. Who in Cyntoia's family is still by her side?
2. Who are the current members of her legal team and are they being paid? Or, does she have a probono legal team?
3. Can Gov. Bill Haslam still grant clemency to Cyntoia? Would it help if we give Gov. Haslam a call? [Phone number for Gov. Haslam is 615-741-2001]
4. Can the community write letters of encouragement to Cyntoia?
A lot of great work has been done on this case, but ultimately...is there anything left that the community at large could try to help #FreeCyntoiaBrown?
Please contact Governor Haslam’s office and urge him to grant clemency for Cyntoia before he leaves office. Call, write letters, or send emails:
Governor Bill Haslam 1st Floor, State Capitol Nashville, TN 37243 615-741-2001 https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html
You can also send a letter of support and encouragement to Cyntoia at:
Cyntoia Brown #410593 Tennessee Prison for Women 2 North, B49 3881 Stewarts Lane Nashville, TN 37218-3302
You can send support funds to Cyntoia that go directly to her: jpay.com#00410593
Check back for updates on this story.