MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s decision to grant clemency for a former prostitute and convicted killer is getting national attention.
Cyntoia Brown’s story now has at least one state lawmaker saying it’s time to help more young people who commit violent acts while involved in prostitution.
Representative London Lamar says state law doesn’t allow children charged with sex trafficking to be tried as an adult, but she says the fact they are involved in prostitution is not taken into consideration when they commit violence and she’s hoping Cyntoia Brown’s case will change that.
“She just lit up with a joy I have never seen before and I have known Cyntoia since the day after she was arrested,” said Kathy Sinback, Cyntoia Brown’s first attorney.
That was Brown’s reaction when she found out she was getting a second chance at freedom. Brown was serving a 51-year sentence for shooting and killing a 43-year-old Nashville man who solicited her for sex. It happened in 2006 when Brown was 16 and forced into prostitution. Prosecutors say the murder was premeditated because she stole the man’s wallet.
Last week, State Senator Brenda Gilmore, led a press conference of women calling for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to grant full clemency to Brown immediately. Other elected officials including, Tennessee Representative London Lamar of District 91 also asked for Brown to receive clemency.
“Cyntoia, one, took personal responsibilities for her actions but also worked very hard to make sure she made up for what had happened,” said Representative Lamar.
Representative Lamar says Brown’s case brings light to the loopholes in the criminal justice system when it comes to how it handles children.
“Even though you’ve made a mistake, you have the opportunity to make it right. And if you do the right thing and you stay consistent, the world will hear you and I believe that everyone deserves a second chance,” Representative Lamar explained.
Governor Haslam said he was persuaded in part because of Brown’s extraordinary steps to rebuild her life, including receiving her GED and an Associate’s Degree.
Brown is expected to be released in August.