Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced he had granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who has been serving a life sentence since killing her abuser when she was 16. CFSY Youth Justice Advocate Eric Alexander released the following statement:
I am very proud of my home state of Tennessee today after our Governor’s decision to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown. A victim of sex trafficking, she was given life in prison for a crime she committed as a teen. Cyntoia’s much-deserved clemency should serve as a reminder and example of the need for systemic change to our justice system so that young people who come in conflict with the law are held accountable in age-appropriate ways with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
I say this as someone who, like Cyntoia, once faced a lifetime in the Tennessee Department of Corrections for a crime I committed as a teen. There are thousands of us across the country, but most don’t have celebrity advocates. We are the only country in the world that sentences our children to life without parole. The majority of the people serving these sentences experienced violence in their communities as children. I hope Cyntoia’s story will open the eyes of our country and serve as a rallying cry to end the extreme sentencing of youth once and for all.
Additional coverage can be found at The Tennesseean.