Some Tennessee lawmakers feel they have a bill to protect young girls like the one Cyntoia Brown once was, but any movement through the legislature will have to wait until at least next year.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted to move the “Cyntoia Brown Bill” to what’s called “summer study” where more stakeholders, such as district attorneys, would have a chance for additional input and be able to work on the language of the bill.
Earlier, the sponsor of the measure, Rep. London Lamar of Memphis told reporters the bill aims to “highlight the issues of sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual assault and sexual exploitation” that are much larger than the case involving Brown.
“What we want to do is think about the other folks as well,” said Rep. Lamar who said most cases. unlike Brown’s, do not get international attention.
Cyntoia Brown’s case attracted international celebrity attention from the likes of Kim Kardashian after she remained in prison for killing and robbing a man who had paid her for sex with when she was 16 years old.
Supporters called Brown a child victim of prostitution and sex trafficking before her sentence was commuted by Governor Bill Haslam as he left office last month. However, the proposed bill aims to formalize that language by legally referring to minors like Brown as “victims” so that the state can also begin providing them with a legal defense.
“Essentially we are trying to make sure we are not mistaking the victims of these horrible crimes for the victims themselves,” said Rep. Lamar during her press conference. “We know this is going to take a lot of support and conversation with our legislators to get them on board.”
Lamar acknowledged it will likely be a long fight.