'Too harsh’: Gov. Haslam discusses granting clemency to Cyntoia Brown

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Jan. 11, 2019 at 4:07 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Days after granting Cyntoia Brown executive clemency, Governor Bill Haslam said it’s time to discuss the issues surrounding juvenile sentencing.

Gov. Haslam said Brown is an example of what it looks like to turn your life around, as well as a jumping off point to re-examine how juvenile offenders are sentenced.

"I have every confidence in the world she'll live a life that's worthy of the second chance she's gotten,” Gov. Haslam said.

Days after granting her executive clemency, Gov. Haslam sat down with WMC Action News 5.

"It was a horrific crime, but she was a 16-year-old girl with a very troubled past who had been literally put out in the streets working in the sex trade. she made a horrible decision, but in a situation no 16-year-old girl should ever be in the middle of,” Gov. Haslam said.

Brown, now 30, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after she shot and killed 43-year-old Nashville realtor Johnny Allen.

(WMC Action News 5)

“If you look at since then she’s literally lived a life that’s been about rehabilitation, redemption she’s about to graduate with a 4.0,” Gov. Haslam said. “I told her attorneys that’s a little bit better than my GPA in college.”

Gov. Haslam made the announcement earlier this week. Brown will walk free in early August after serving 15 years in prison.

The governor said it’s now time to discuss the issues surrounding juvenile sentencing.

“She was sentenced as a 16-year-old to life in prison with the possibility of parole but what the court says, that’s 51 years until she’s eligible for parole,” Gov. Haslam said. “I just think that’s too harsh.”

Lawmakers, activists and celebrities nationwide took an interest in Brown’s case.

Many of them called on Gov. Haslam to released Brown before leaving office.

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