Freedom, At Long Last


Freedom, At Long Last

Earlier this year, then-Gov. Bill Haslam took the unusual step of granting Cyntoia Brown clemency for what he called a “tragic and complex case,” a major victory for the unjustly incarcerated Brown and all those who support her, who for years has maintained that the 2004 killing was an act of self-defense.

In 2004 Cyntoia Brown shot and killed a working real estate agent, a 43-year-old Johnny Allen, Allen had intended to pay Brown for sexual services. Cyntoia had been exposed to a life of human trafficking by a man dubbed “Kut Throat” after running away from her foster home.

After taking Brown back to his residence, Brown accounts that Allen’s behavior became erratic and she alleges that Allen kept standing over her after she said she wanted to go to sleep and that Allen had aggressively grabbed her by the genitals. When he eventually reached for something under the bed, Brown said she believed he was reaching for a gun and shot him with her own. She then left, taking two of Allen’s guns and his money

Brown was then arrested and charged with First-degree murder, in a crime for which she pled Self-defense. Cyntoia Brown has since served 15 years of a life sentence, that ended today, as Brown was released early Wednesday morning. Brown was released due to the fact that her case and the circumstances surrounding her incarceration had garnered so much public attention and support. There are many cases where women have not been as fortunate as Brown.

According to the ACLU, women “are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population,” despite the fact that only 36 percent of arrested women were arrested for violent crimes, and despite the fact that women only make up 8 percent of felons convicted for violent crimes. Outdated exceedingly severe drug laws, unfortunately, are what have placed many of them behind bars a venture that typically costs the U.S. taxpayer $25,000 per year to fund prisons, plus an additional $25,000 per year for each of their children. It’s true: In addition to incarceration for nonviolent drug crimes.

While prosecutors are persistent in trying to argue the fact that Brown shot Allen in an orchestrated set up to rob him. Brown’s release is a light of revelation on an issue that is rooted far deeper in an oppressive system, a system that for all intensive purposes was constructed to rehabilitate people and re-establish them as valuable members of society, but instead dehumanizes them and for many people of color this means harsher punishments, longer sentences, and a slew of unjust convictions that lack evidence. As of now, it’s reported that statistically, 79% of women in federal and state prisons reported physical abuse and over 60% reported past sexual abuse. In other words, many of the women incarcerated have in fact, been victims — just like Brown 

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