After 15 long years in prison, Cyntoia Brown walked out of the Tennessee Prison for Women after being granted clemency in January by Gov. Bill Haslam.
“Early this morning offender Cyntoia Brown was released the Tennessee Prison for Women,” the Tennessee Department of Correction confirmed in a statement around 3:30 a.m. local time, according to AOL.
Brown was convicted on first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allan in 2004. Brown, who was only 16 at the time of the shooting, said that she was a victim of sex-trafficking and acted only in self-defense.
For years she sought to overturn her life sentence. A previous ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered her to serve 51 years in prison before being able to be considered for parole, but thankfully, Haslam stepped in.
“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” Haslam said upon granting her clemency. “Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. 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 Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life. Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”
Those conditions include that Brown remains on parole until Aug. 7, 2029, at which point her sentence will officially be over and she will be truly free.
In the meantime, however, the now 31-year-old is already making plans, inking a book deal with Atria Books.
The book, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System, is scheduled to be published on Oct. 15.
Brown, who has declined media interviews for now as she readjusts to being back home, also said in a statement earlier this week that she is looking forward to “using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation.”
“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,” she said.
Meanwhile, those same supporters have rallied behind of her. A Second Chance GoFundMe campaign in her honor has raised more than $20,000 over the past seven months to help her get back on her feet as she transitions.