Imagine channel surfing or scrolling through social media and coming across an advertisement for a documentary on your life story—one that you had no idea was happening and had no involvement in putting together. Cyntoia Brown-Long, who served 15 years of a life sentence for murder before being released last year, said in a tweet Wednesday that she had just that experience when she was blindsided by an ad for a new Netflix documentary, Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story.
“While I was still incarcerated, a producer who has old footage of me made a deal with Netflix for an UNAUTHORIZED documentary, set to be released soon,” she tweeted. “My husband and I were as surprised as everyone else when we first heard the news because we did not participate in any way.”
Brown-Long posted a reply to that tweet making sure that people knew she would be telling her own story and expressed hopes that Netflix will do a responsible job in their telling of her story without her permission.
“However, I am currently in the process of sharing my story, in the right way, in full detail, and in a way that depicts and respects the woman I am today. While I pray that this film highlights things wrong in our justice system, I had nothing to do with this documentary.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Brown-Long’s story, in 2004, at age 16, she was convicted of killing 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen after he picked her up and took her to his home. She was widely recognized as a victim of child sex-trafficking and in Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, a documentary that she actually authorized and took part in, she described all the abuse she had suffered and how it fueled her paranoia.
After her story received nationwide attention, prompting a massive outpouring of support for her by social justice advocates and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam commuted her sentence and put her on supervised parole for 10 years just before he left office.
Since her release from prison, she has released her memoir, Free Cyntoia: Search For Redemption in the American Prison System, and has become a public advocate for other women and girls trapped in the justice system after trying to escape abuse. Last year she penned an op-ed published in the Washington Post in support of 17-year-old Chrystul Kizer who was accused of killing a man who she said trafficked her and about a dozen other black girls.