NASHVILLE — In 2004, Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison because she killed a man who bought her. 13 years later, she is still in prison, and celebrities are joining the rallying cry to free her.
When she was just 16, Cyntoia Brown was being sex-trafficked by a pimp named “Kutthroat.” She was verbally, physically, and sexually abused then sold to a 43-year-old Nashville realtor, named Johnny Allen, who used her for sex.
According to Newsweek, Cyntoia eventually shot and killed Allen after being taken to his home.
She was tried as an adult and found guilty of murder and prostitution. She will not be eligible for parole until she is 69-years-old, according to WZTV.
Filmmaker Dan Birman documented Cyntoia’s case in a film called “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.”
On Monday, Birman shared a photo of Cyntoia along with her story. Birman’s post went viral, and now thousands of people, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, are seeking justice for Cyntoia Brown.
Rhianna shared Birman’s post and commented, “did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause….. Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child’s sentence I hope to God you don’t have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!”
did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause….. Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already! #FREECYNTOIABROWN #HowManyMore
Kardashian shared the post as well, and announced that she is contacting her attorneys to help Cyntoia.
“The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this.
#FreeCyntoiaBrown,” Kardashian said.
In 2011, Birman’s film on Cyntoia’s case helped influence a new Tennessee law. Now anyone 18 or younger can’t even be charged with prostitution. If Cyntoia were tried today, she’d be tried as a human trafficking victim. Instead, she will not be eligible for parole after serving 51 years.
Clemency campaign organizers are asking the Tennessee Governor and the Parole Board to examine Cyntoia’s case. They have nearly 200,000 signatures on a petition that will be sent to President Donald Trump and Congress when it reaches 225,000.
While in prison, Cyntoia earned her associates degree from Lipscomb University. She is now working towards a bachelor’s degree, and she hopes to use her degree to create opportunities for other prisoners.
“I myself can create opportunities to help people [behind bars],” Cyntoia told WZTV.
You can learn more about Birman’s documentary on PBS.org.