The story of Cyntoia Brown is clearly an American tragedy. Close your eyes and picture this. Imagine being born to a teenage mother with a substance abuse problem, who continued to drink and take drugs while pregnant. Then imagine being removed from that mother and placed into foster care where you lacked love, care and protection. Meanwhile, imagine growing up in foster care, being hooked on drugs, and becoming a victim of abusive men who continuously take advantage of you mentally and sexually. Imagine as a teen, living on the streets and being forced into prostitution in order to make enough money for your adult, abusive, rapist boyfriend. But it doesn’t stop here, imagine at 16 years old, one of your ‘clients‘, a 43 year-old Army veteran, deciding he wanted to use you for the night; so he takes you back to his home where you are basically this man’s property and your job will be to fulfill his sick desires.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a made-for-Lifetime movie, this was the real story of a 16-year old girl named Cyntoia Brown. Thirteen years ago at the age of 16, she shot and killed a 43 year-old pedophile , Johnny Allen; and this is where the nightmare gets worse. Yes, homicide is a horrible crime, but it is apparent that the judge and jury did not take into consideration the abuse and distress Brown had experienced during her young life. Most importantly, when she killed Johnny Allen, the teenager believed her life was in danger.
On the day of Allen’s murder, instead of taking her to a hotel, she got into his truck where he took her to his home; this is where she testified she was uncomfortable. While there, Allen showed the teen his gun collection; he was a sharp shooter in the Army and had amassed a serious collection of artillery. According to Cyntoia, when Allen reached beside his bed, she thought he was reaching for one of this guns, and she took out a gun she had hidden for her own protection and shot him. After she shot him, she took more weapons, ran away and called 911.
Although Johnny Allen was a child predator and was committing a sex crime with an underage girl, supporters of Cyntoia believe she should have at least been charged with manslaughter. Instead, the court tried her as an adult and sentenced her to first degree murder which came with a 51-year prison sentence. Cyntoia at that time says she was in fear of being in this man’s home and believed that he was going to harm her.
Did the American court system fail Cyntoia? Did it not take her rape seriously? Did they not believe she was in fear for her life? This is the same American court system that allows police officers, who are trained to deal with risky situations, to be found ‘not guilty‘ after they have murdered someone while claiming they were in fear for their lives.
Cyntoia’s case has slowly grown legs of scrutiny and was even the inspiration for filmmaker Dan Birman, who followed Cyntoia’s for many years and created a documentary titled, “Me Facing Life“. Talk regarding giving life sentences to children came to light during the Obama administration, but with Brown’s case giving new light to the number of teens handed life sentences, the dialogue has ignited the debate questioning if sentences like these are fair.
Now at the age of 29, Cyntoia’s public defender from 13 years ago and others are working to lead efforts in Tennessee to change the law. They want the courts to require teens who are sentenced to life, get a mandatory 15- or 20-year review of their sentences. If these laws change, Cyntoia would at least have a chance to get her sentenced reviewed at the age of 31 or 36. Cyntoia has been called a model prisoner, a mentor to other female prisoners, and she was able to earn her Associates Degree from Lipscomb University’s in-jail program. She is now working on her Bachelor’s degree and is an unpaid consultant for the Juvenile Justice system in Tennessee.
“I myself can create opportunities to help people [behind bars],” – Cyntoia Brown
There is a strong, supportive group of people behind the walls and within the justice system, looking to get Cyntoia clemency. They are pushing to get the governor and the parole board to look at all of the factors in her case, and look at all of the work she has done behind bars in order to get the powers that be to consider clemency.
If this case had happened in 2017, Cyntoia would have been considered a sex slave and a victim of sex-trafficking – not a criminal.
Check out Cyntoia Brown’s Documentary below
Source: Fox 17