Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years before she's eligible for release, Tennessee Supreme Court rules

Cyntoia Brown who was convicted for murder when she was 16 will be facing at least five decades in prison after filing a lawsuit for parole eligibility. 

Judges of the Supreme Court in Tennessee arrived at a unanimous decision for Cyntoia Brown to remain in prison for at least 51 years before considering her release. This is the latest news in the sad case of Brown, who was convicted as an adult when she was only 16 for the death of Johnny Mitchell Allen. 


During her 2004 trial, Brown testified that due to hard times, she was sold as a sex slave to 43-year-old Mitchell who would often point a gun at her while under abusive captivity. On the night Mitchell was killed, Brown claimed she feared he was going to kill her so she pulled out a gun and shot him instead. 


Despite her testimony, she was convicted to life in prison. She made several attempts to appeal her case but was denied. Her latest lawsuit argued her unconstitutional sentencing. She claimed she had been cast a life sentence without parole despite being a juvenile offender and cited this as a violation of a 2012 opinion by the US Supreme Court. 


However, the Tennessee Supreme Court insisted her case fell under the state law that purports that convicts of first-degree murder committed after July 1, 1995, will only be entitled to release after serving five decades on a lifetime prison sentence. The decision was unanimously decided upon by five judges who further stated, 

“Under state law, a life sentence is a determinate sentence of 60 years. However, the sixty-year sentence can be reduced by up to 15 percent, or 9 years by earning various sentence credits.”

These credits include acknowledgment of good behavior and involvement in educational and vocational training programs. 


Brown’s case previously earned the support of many including celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian who lobbied for mercy. However, in a clemency hearing in May, the six-member Board of Parole saw a split in the decision to free Brown. Two voted for her clemency, two denied it and two made her eligible for parole after 25 years. This despite Kardashian’s efforts to hire O.J. Simpson “Dream Team” lawyer Shawn Holley to take on Brown’s case. 


Kardashian may have failed to help Brown but she did facilitate the release of another woman facing a life sentence, Alice Johnson. The 63-year-old was granted clemency by President Donald Trump after Kardashian lobbied for her cause.  She met with Trump and convinced him Johnson deserved to be released.  She was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for merely a first-time drug offense. Johnson is currently free and grateful to Kardashian for the chance to live the remainder of her life outside bars. 

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