Free Cyntoia Brown
TAKE ACTION NOW
Cyntoia Brown was only sixteen years old when she was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a 43-year-old man who had picked her up for sex. She had run away from home and was living with a pimp who raped and abused her. She feared that the man who had picked her up was reaching under his bed for a gun, so she pulled a handgun out of her own purse and shot him.
Due to brain damage she suffered in utero related to her mother's drinking, at the time of the offense she had the decision-making capabilities of a ten-year-old. Children, whose brains are still developing, may fail to consider long-term consequences or control their emotions. Cyntoia's age and age-related characteristics, in addition to her trauma history, were not given proper consideration in her sentencing.
The United States remains the only country in the world that allows children to be sentenced to life without parole. Tennessee's life sentence law requires that an inmate serve 51 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole – this is tantamount to life without parole. Cyntoia is not eligible for parole until 2055, when she will be 67 years old – unless the governor steps in.
Behavioral and brain development experts agree that children are more likely to be able to reform their behavior than adults. Indeed, Cyntoia has spent her time in prison earning an associate's degree and she is working on a bachelor's. She has also mentored other inmates.
TAKE ACTION: Urge Governor Haslam to grant Cyntoia clemency and give her the chance to work toward reclaiming her future.
Bill Haslam (R-TN), Governor