After serving 15 years of a life sentence, Cyntoia Brown will be set free.
Brown was 16 when she killed a 43-year-old stranger who picked her up and brought her to his home. Sentenced to life in prison for the 2004 murder, her case gained national attention last year after it began circulating under the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown, lifted further by celebrity supporters. Her defenders said that the teen was forced into prostitution by a violent boyfriend.
On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) granted her clemency, adding that she will be released on Aug. 7 and be on parole for 10 years.
Here is Brown’s full statement, which her attorneys provided to the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. It was read at a news conference Monday by Juvenile Court Administrator Kathy Sinback, who said Brown wrote it earlier that morning.
Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.
I want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program. It changed my life. I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world.
Thank you to Dr. Richard Goode and Dr. Kate Watkins and all of you at Lipscomb University for opening up a whole new world for me. I have one course left to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which I will complete in May 2019.
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. Let today be a testament to His Saving Grace.
Thank you to my family for being a backbone these past 14 years.
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.
I love all of you and will be forever grateful.
With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people.
My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.
Read more about Cyntoia Brown’s case: