After serving 15 years behind bars, Cyntoia Brown is finally free.
CNN reports that Brown, who has spent almost half of her life incarcerated, was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women on Wednesday, according to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
In January, then-Gov. Bill Haslam granted her clemency as one of his final acts in office.
“Over her more than fourteen years of incarceration, Ms. Brown has demonstrated extraordinary growth and rehabilitation,” the commutation said.
The details surrounding Brown’s incarceration drew attention from both celebrities and social justice advocates alike, who channeled their indignation into protests and massive social media campaigns that eventually influenced Gov. Haslam’s decision to commute her sentence.
In 2006, Brown was convicted of murdering 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen, as The Root’s Anne Branigin previously reported:
Brown told authorities she was trapped into sex work and was a victim of child sex trafficking at the time she killed Allen, who had picked up the then-16-year-old Brown from a Sonic Drive-In. She shot Allen while the two were in bed together; Brown claimed self-defense, while prosecutors argued Brown was trying to rob the real estate agent, WKRN reports.
Since news of her release broke, Twitter has been flooded with well-wishers celebrating her newfound freedom and second chance at life.
Prior to her release, Brown released the following statement on Monday:
“While first giving honor to God who made all of this possible, I would also like to thank my many supporters who have spoken on my behalf and prayed for me. I’m blessed to have a very supportive family and friends to support me in the days to come. I look forward to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation. I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord’s help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud.
While Brown’s immediate plans are unknown, hopefully, she takes all the time she needs to enjoy her freedom and reacclimate herself to society. Welcome home!