A documentary film spotlighting the injustices faced by Cyntoia Brown has renewed conversations around her imprisonment. In 2004, when Cyntoia Brown was a 16-year-old victim of abuse, rape, and sex trafficking, a 43-year-old man solicited her to be his child sex slave. Brown escaped from the man, named Johnny Mitchell Allen, after shooting and killing him. With her story of survival rightfully capturing the world’s attention, Cyntoia Brown’s release date from prison has become an important point of contention surrounding her case.
Brown has been sentenced to life in prison at the Tennessee Prison for Women and won’t be eligible for parole until she is 67 years old — despite having been a minor protecting herself from a sexual predator. Now 28 years old, Brown is still decades away from her scheduled release date.
The documentary film, called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, explores Brown’s life in jail, as well as the horrific abuse she had to escape — leading to her eventual imprisonment. Before Brown was solicited by Allen, she was a sex trafficking victim living with a sexually abusive pimp who went by “Kutthroat.” While Brown was out picking up money for Kutthroat, Allen solicited her for sex. At Allen’s house, she discovered numerous guns and feared for her life. Later that night, while in bed together, Brown shot him in the head.
Brown also suffers from mental illness and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which, in conjunction with her traumatic childhood and violent living situation, can impact her judgement. In an interview with Fox 17 News, End Slavery TN’s founder, Derri Smith, summed up the cruelty and injustice behind Brown’s punishment:
Brown’s behavior and accomplishments while in prison further demonstrate the absurdity of her life sentence. In addition to mentoring other women in prison, she received her Associate’s Degree from Lipscomb University’s in-jail program in 2016, and is now working toward her Master’s Degree.
Particularly interesting is the fact that Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story helped change how Tennessee sentences children. In 2011, Tennessee courts decided that minors cannot be charged with prostitution — yet Brown is still in jail, charged as a prostitute who killed her john.
There has been a swell of celebrity support for Cyntoia Brown on social media. From Rihanna to Kim Kardashian, people are bringing national attention to Brown’s case.
Hopefully, this sudden and overdue uproar surrounding the Cyntoia Brown ruling will result in her receiving justice sooner rather than later.