On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced something big: the clemency of Cyntoia Brown, a woman whose supporters range from Black Lives Matter activists to Kim Kardashian West. But when will Cyntoia Brown be released from prison following this clemency? It turns out it won’t be for a while.
Brown won’t be released until Aug. 7, according to The Associated Press. The reasons for the length of time between the commutation and her release appears to be largely bureaucratic, according to The Tennessean. Brown is required to participate in "assigned transition and re-entry programming" that takes about six months before she can be released, the newspaper reported.
In Tennessee, there are at least four types of clemency. Brown received a commutation — which means a lesser sentence is set in place of the original, longer sentence — as opposed to a pardon or an exoneration, the latter of which would mean her conviction is stricken from her record, according to The Tennessean.
Brown was sentenced to life in prison when she was 16 after she killed a man who had solicited her for sex, NBC News reported. Brown will remain on parole for 10 years after serving nearly 15 years. She must hold a job, participate in counseling and not violate any state or federal laws while on parole, The Associated Press reported. The charges will remain on her record, according to The Tennessean.
In a statement about his clemency decision, Haslam said Brown had a "tragic and complex case" to consider. "Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," the outgoing Republican governor in a statement. "Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life."
Brown, in her own statement about the news, expressed her thanks to the governor and his "act of mercy", her legal team, and the support of activists and others calling for her release. "I am thankful for all the support, prayers, and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings. The Lord has held my hand this whole time, and I would have never made it without Him," Brown said in a statement, according to The Tennessean. "I am thankful to my lawyers and their staffs, and all the others who, for the last decade have freely given of their time and expertise to help me get to this day."
While incarcerated, Brown earned her GED and associate degree with a 4.0 GOP through the Lipscomb Initiative for Education Program. Now, Brown is one course short of her bachelor's degree from Lipscomb University. She plans to finish her degree in May 2019, according to her statement.
Brown said she's grateful to everyone who helped her case. "I love all of you and will be forever grateful," Brown said in a statement.