Cyntoia Brown, sex-trafficking victim, has murder sentence commuted after celebrity campaign

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Posted

January 08, 2019 11:00:25

A US victim of sex trafficking convicted of murder as a teenager — whose case became a celebrity-driven campaign — has been granted clemency and will be freed after spending 15 years in prison.

Key points:

  • Cyntoia Brown killed a man who paid to have sex with her when she was 16 years old
  • Brown will be released from prison on August 7
  • The release comes after celebrities campaigned to raise awareness of her case

Cyntoia Brown, 30, had her sentence commuted because of her exemplary behaviour while in prison, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said in a statement.

At age 16, Ms Brown killed a man who paid to have sex with her.

Having run away from an adoptive family, she had been living in a motel with a pimp who peddled her for sex.

Without the Governor’s decision, Ms Brown would not have been eligible for parole until 2059.

Celebrities including singer Rihanna, reality star Kim Kardashian West, comedian Amy Schumer and actresses Sophia Bush and Shay Mitchell had taken up Ms Brown’s cause on social media, saying she was a victim who did not deserve her lengthy sentence.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” the Tennessee Governor said in a statement.

“Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Brown has taken to rebuild her life.

“Transformation should be accompanied by hope.”

Ms Brown will be released from prison on August 7, but remain under parole supervision until 2029.

In the US, as many as 1,000 children are arrested each year on charges of prostitution, according to Rights4Girls.

Meanwhile, some 1.5 million people in the US are victims of trafficking, according to anti-trafficking groups.

The clemency decision comes amid a wave of new legal measures vacating convictions and expunging criminal records of child-trafficking victims, often called safe harbour laws.

Just 20 US states have passed laws making young trafficking victims immune from crimes such as truancy and underage drinking, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Globally, more than 40 million people are victims of human trafficking, according to the International Labour Organisation.

An estimated 4 million of them are sexually exploited.

Reuters

Topics:

crime,

law-crime-and-justice,

human-trafficking,

sexual-offences,

united-states





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