by BriteHeart | 1.8.19
Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency Monday because Gov. Bill Haslam used his power and showed her mercy.
He also meted out justice and a second chance to a young woman who has worked hard to rehabilitate her life in the 12 years since her sentencing for murder.
Brown killed local real estate agent Johnny Mitchell Allen in his bed in 2004.
She said he paid her for sex. She was 16. He was 43.
She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for release after 51 years.
Brown said she had been trafficked as a sex slave and her past, filled with trauma and abuse, colored her view of her world.
Since her sentencing, she has pursued her education, earning an associate degree from Lipscomb University. She is on track to finish her bachelor's degree in May.
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Some of Allen’s family and friends opposed clemency for her, and they have a right to continue to feel hurt and angry.
But the circumstances of her abuse, her age and the severity of her sentence as a minor merited being taken into account by Haslam.
Studying negative societal issues and how they affect children and teens was a key initiative for the governor.
His administration created a major statewide effort to establish Tennessee as a national model to prevent and mitigate adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, which create barriers to normal brain development.
ACEs are not an excuse for committing a violent act, but they offer a reason why someone would be prone to act in such an anti-social behavior.
Haslam’s understanding and compassion in this case show strength of resolve and character.
Brown has become a cause célèbre for celebrities and some politicians.
Cyntoia Brown over the years
The case sparked a debate on criminal justice reform, which is expected to be a big issue in the 2019 Tennessee General Assembly session, which starts Tuesday.
Haslam promised to consider the case on its merits and his deliberative and conservative approach to clemency shows he is being true to his word.
In freeing Cyntoia Brown, he did the right thing and deserves to be commended for it.
Thank you, Governor Haslam.
Opinion and Engagement Editor David Plazas wrote this editorial on behalf of The Tennessean Editorial Board and the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee. Call him at (615) 259-8063, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to him at @davidplazas.
Written by BriteHeart
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