A film that sheds light on Cyntoia Brown, a young girl imprisoned for killing the man who solicited her as a 16-year-old child sex slave, hopes to set her free.
In 2004, Brown stepped into Johnny Mitchell Allen's pickup truck after the 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent solicited her for sex. They drove to his home, went into his bed and soon after, Brown shot him in the back of the head with a .40-caliber handgun as he lay naked beside her.
She was sentenced to life in prison at the Tennessee Prison for Women with a chance of parole at age 67, despite having been abused in raped repeatedly as a victim of sex trafficking.
In the film about her case — headed by filmmaker Dan Birman — Brown explains her abuse and how it made her paranoid. “This is a young girl who's at the tail end of three generations of violence against women,” Birman told Fox 17 News. Cyntoia, her grandmother, and mother were all raped he explains. “She had no chance."
Following her case for seven years, the film was so impactful that it helped change Tennessee laws for children like Brown in 2011. Now, anyone 18 or younger can't even be charged with prostitution. But despite its impact, Brown still sits in jail after a traumatic childhood that led to the fatal incident.
On social media and in her hometown there's been a rallying cry to get Brown out of jail by presenting her case to the Governor and the Parole Board. Now 28 years old, Brown has completed her associate's degree and is now working on her master's. In December 2016, pictures of her receiving her associate's from Lipscomb University's in-jail program showed a hopeful Brown.
Derri Smith, the Founder of End Slavery TN, spoke candidly to Fox 17 News about Brown's case. “She did kill someone, she deeply regrets it, but she was a child and she was being exploited,” Smith said.
“[There's] no such thing as a child prostitute or a teen prostitute. I think we've had to have a cultural mind shift."