It’s a decision that made national headlines, Governor Bill Haslam choosing to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown – just days before leaving office.
Larry Turnley relates to her story and hopes she makes the most of this opportunity.
“She could be that voice for some of these young sisters out here that need some type of guidance.”
Turnley was sentenced to life in prison back in 1997 on crack cocaine charges.
“Prior to going to prison, every day that I got up you know I was prepared to die or either kill someone to protect what was mine,” said Turnley.
As time passed, he said he knew he wanted to make a difference if he ever made it out of prison.
In 2008, federal law changed for crack cocaine charges and Turnley petitioned his sentence.
“The judge reduced my sentence from life to 24 years in 2009.”
In 2014, another new federal law – reduced sentences for all drug convictions.
“I filed under that, and then in 2016 my petition was granted and I was given immediate release.”
After serving 20 years, Turnley was a free man. He had been in prison since he was 24 years old.
Turnley said his path to freedom, was thanks in part to the help of political leaders — much like Cyntoia Brown.
Brown was serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute. She is now set to be released on parole on August 7th.
Turnley believes it was the right decision.
“You know we all deserve a second chance.”
He said his second chance has given him the time to be a community advocate. With the help of other community leaders, he helped start an annual Thanksgiving meal in the J.C Napier Homes area.
He also collects winter-weather coats to donate to a Metro school each year.