Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday morning that clemency will be granted to Cyntoia Brown.
Brown is a Nashville woman who has spent 15 years behind bars for a murder she committed at age 16. She is expected to be released on parole on Aug. 7, 2019.
The conditions of her parole say that she will have to attend regular counseling sessions, work with at-risk youth and maintain a job. Haslam’s decision to grant Brown clemency comes after a year of mounting pressure from activists, celebrities and Tennessee legislators.
“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said in a statement.
“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. 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.”
In 2015, Brown earned an associate’s degree through Lipscomb University’s LIFE program, which brings traditional and non-traditional students together for classes at the Tennessee Prison for Women. She issued a statement thanking both the Tennessee Department of Corrections and Lipscomb for the opportunity.
“I want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program,” Brown said.
“It changed my life. I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world.”
Brown is just one course away from completing her bachelor’s degree, which she will finish through Lipscomb this year.
“Thank you to Dr. Richard Goode and Dr. Kate Watkins and all of you at Lipscomb University for opening up a whole new world for me.”
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb.edu