Cyntoia Brown, championed by celebrities as a symbol of unfair sentencing, was released early Wednesday from the Tennessee Prison for Women, where she had been serving a life sentence for killing a man who had picked her up for sex at 16. "I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord's help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud".
Now that she's out, Brown will go directly to a transition center to live where she can complete her degree, according to a release provided by the Tennessee Department of Correction.
In July, Netflix announced that it had acquired a documentary on Brown that will "give additional insight on her years in prison and the path to her newfound fate", according to a press release. During her trial, prosecutors disputed her claim of self defense, arguing Brown had meant to rob Allen.
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At trial, Brown's attorneys said she was the victim of sex trafficking and argued she lacked the mental capacity to be culpable in Allen's slaying due to mental impairments she suffered when her mother drank alcohol while pregnant.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.
At the time of the murder, Brown, who was 16 and had run away from home, was living in a motel with a trafficker who peddled her for sex.
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They did not go to the scene of Sunday's shooting, the Oregon District, which was filled with demonstrators protesting his visit. He said the shooter wore a black bandana mask across his face and said: "The McRib is back" before he opened fire.
Years after Brown's sentencing, her case became a widespread conversation on social media, inspiring the viral hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown.
"When her story is told in much greater detail, the words which describe her success include redemption, rehabilitation, salvation, mercy and freedom", Bone said in a statement Monday. The film not only looked her life as a young teen forced into prostitution, but it also shined a needed spotlight on prison reform and how the system at large has failed many kids who face similar circumstances like Brown.
While in prison, Brown, now 31, earned an associate's degree from Lipscomb University in 2015 and a bachelor's degree in the Tennessee Prison for Women in May. "I can create opportunities where I can actually help people". She was only 14 years old at the time of the murder. She's worked on her education in lockup, graduating from college, and is now working on her master's degree.
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Grande, meanwhile, said she willbe "cherishing this moment forever" and revealed she was sobbing after the performance. Streisand shared a picture of her hands reaching out to Grande's hand, which is full of her trademark tattoos.