Cyntoia Brown has been locked in a cage at Tennessee Prison for Women for close to 15 years. Her "crime"? Being a 16-year-old victim of rape, kidnapping, and sex-trafficking who dared to fight for her life.
Governor Bill Haslam has five days left in office. Click here to email him now to ask that he grant clemency to Cyntoia.
Basketball star LeBron James described this case:
"Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named 'Cut-Throat.' After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men you were purchased by a 43-year-old predator who took you into his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him. [You’re] arrested as [a] result, and tried and convicted 'as an adult' and sentenced to life in prison. This is the story of Cyntoia Brown. She will be eligible for parole when she is 69 years old. #FreeCyntoiaBrown."
Cyntoia is now 30 years old. She has spent the last 14 years at Tennessee Prison for Women -- nearly half of her life. Since her incarceration, she has earned her high school diploma and has worked tirelessly to fight for her own early release. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has the power to commute her sentence. We must take immediate action to urge him to free Cyntoia Brown. She deserves our empathy and Governor Haslam’s mercy.
Click here to email the Governor, after which we'll provide you with his phone number, as well as with Cyntoia Brown's mailing address.
Being sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile is cruel and unusual punishment. Moreover, punishing a 16-year-old girl for resisting kidnapping and sexual assault at the hands of someone close to three times her age is an archaic form of injustice that perpetuates rape culture and promotes child sex-trafficking.
A number of studies have found that about half of the women caught up in the U.S. "justice" system report experiencing some kind of physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime.
Cyntoia is just one of hundreds of child victims currently incarcerated across the country, punished by an anti-black system for being a victim of poverty, trauma, neglect, and abuse. Her case is a heart-wrenching reminder that we still live in a country where our justice system criminalizes and punishes black girls and women who are victims of sexual assault while allowing their abusers and rapists to roam free.
Granting clemency for Cyntoia would set a precedent nationwide for ending the criminalization of young people who are survivors of sex trafficking and sexual assault.
Take action to ask Governor Haslam to grant clemency for Cyntoia during his last five days in office.
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-- The RootsAction.org Team
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.