NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — East Tennessee Republican lawmaker Jeremy Faison was among the many who quietly played a role in the Cyntoia Brown case.
“What really grabbed me is Cyntoia said ‘Jeremy, I am going to spend my life giving back to kids that were in the same position as I was.’ ” Faison recalled Wednesday about conversations he had with the now-former inmate over the last five years.
Rep. Faison says he even got a text from Brown’s main lawyer in the wee hours Wednesday morning when she was released from prison in Nashville.
The lawmaker says he first visited Cyntoia Brown in prison when few others were talking about her, but “never wanted to politicize” the case or even take a picture with her.
“This was just something I was brought into five years ago and it was the right thing for her,” says Faison.
A person connected to Cyntoia Brown’s lawyer knew Rep. Faison had an interest in criminal justice reform.
She convinced the lawmaker that Brown was about “redemption” despite shooting to death a Nashville man named Johnny Allen at age 16 after he paid to have sex with her.
Faison met with Brown in prison shortly after learning about her case.
“We have had small talks and deep talks over the years,” says the lawmaker.
Faison said he also talked with then-Governor Bill Haslam beginning five years ago about Brown and many times since then.
“I let him know I spent a considerable amount of time with Cyntoia,” added Rep. Faison.
The lawmaker says he and the former governor even shared texts late Tuesday about Brown’s release.
Rep. Faison will quickly point to Haslam taking considerable time and political risk to grant Cyntoia’s Brown release from prison after spending almost half her life there.
“He said something to the effect that ‘I am thankful that I got to be a small piece, and I thought Governor you were no small piece of this…you were the linchpin if you will, that made this happen,” added the lawmaker.
Soon, like so many others, Rep. Faison says he “can’t wait to hug Cyntoia Brown outside of prison bars.”