NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a decision welcomed by many: Cyntoia Brown, convicted in 2006 of murder, had her sentence commuted by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Brown was 16 years old when the crime was committed, and advocates say she was a victim of sex trafficking and shot the 43-year-old in self-defense.
But one question many are asking today is: if her sentence was commuted, why does she have to remain in jail until August?
The short answer: as part of commutation, Gov. Haslam can choose the specific date the person is released.
And that date is 15 years to the day she was first arrested. According to Charles Bone, Cyntoia’s lawyer, Gov. Haslam wanted Brown to fulfill a full 15 years of her sentence.
"Our plea had been to let her out now so she could take that class on campus and be a part of the student body," Bone told NewsChannel 5. "But the governor said I want her to stay for a total of 15 years, August 7th. That is the date from the time she was first arrested."
According to the Governor, Brown was granted clemency due to an "extraordinary growth and rehabilitation." Brown got her G-E-D while in prison, and completed an associates degree with the Lipscomb LIFE Program with a GPA of 4-point oh. She has one credit hour left in her bachelor's degree that she expects she will finish in 2019.
When Bone asked Brown about not being let out immediately she said she thought she would be in prison until she was 67. She is more than happy to stay incarcerated until August 7th.
"She didn't say, I didn't do anything wrong, Bone said. "She said, I did something wrong and I'm sorry and I hate it and I wish I hadn't done it.
Brown will be released to parole supervision on August 7, 2019. As part of the commutation, she must meet the following guidelines:
- Placement in transition/re-entry programming,
- Compliance with an approved release plan,
- Continue working toward her bachelor’s degree,
- Maintain employment or educational enrollment once placed on parole,
- Participate in regular counseling sessions, and
- Maintain a regular commitment to community service.