Haslam to consider clemency for reported sex abuse victim who committed murder at age 16

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says his administration has begun gathering information on Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman whose murder conviction has become a cause célèbre, reports WPLN. But a decision on whether to grant her clemency is unlikely to come until the last days of his term in January, 2019, in keeping with a tradition established by predecessors.

Brown was convicted more than a decade ago for the murder of a Nashville man. Advocates for Brown say she was caught up in a so-called “sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline.” At 16 years old at the time of the crime, Brown says she was the victim of sex trafficking.

She maintains that she killed because she feared for her life. Now 29 years old, Brown has been held up as an example of how the justice system often harshly punishes children forced into prostitution or other crimes.

In recent weeks, high-profile celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West and Snoop Dogg have called for Brown’s life sentence to be overturned. And over the weekend, another supporter, the human rights organization Rights4Girls, told NPR’s Weekend Edition they’re turning to Tennessee’s governor to win Brown’s release.

But Haslam says he hasn’t yet seen a formal clemency appeal. And once it arrives, it’ll take time before he acts on it.

“I would be really surprised by the end of the year,” he says. “I think we’re just starting to gather the information.”

Note: Haslam’s immediate predecessor, former Gov. Phil Bredesen granted 22 pardons and four commutations (one being a reduction of a death sentence to life in prison) during the last days of his final term. A 2016 Tennessee Bar Journal article providing considerable information, statistics and some commentary on the topic is HERE. While the clemency scandal during former Gov. Ray Blanton’s last days caused a huge uproar (including the early ouster of Blanton and ultimately criminal convictions of Blanton staffers), author Benjamin Raybin says the record for granting pardons is held by  Gov. Malcolm Patterson (1907-11) — more than 1,400 pardons in four years or more than double Blanton’s actions.

And WPLN has more on the Brown case HERE.

One Response to Haslam to consider clemency for reported sex abuse victim who committed murder at age 16

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    Kay White says:

    If Gov. Haslam does not grant Ms. Brown Clemency, when I am elected as the first woman Governor of Tennessee, I would love to have the pleasure of releasing her and expunging her record. The woman was robbed of her young life. We must stop the human trafficking in Tennessee and we must punish those who are guilty of assaulting any child and we must punish them with the most harsh punishment that we can get the Tennessee legislators to agree to put into law. You see, enough is enough and I am about rebuilding lives not destroying them. We must not be guilty of enabling those who seek to take gain monetarily on the backs of our children. Rape is rape regardless of age and once proven, I would suggest sterilization for any and all sex offenders. If we will get tough on crimes, there will be less crimes. I will serve the people and make sure that our children are more safe than they have been in the last few administrations. We must allow our TBI to do their job and in my administration, the people will see the difference. MY uncle and my children’s great uncle was over the TBI at one time, David Scruggs, Sr. and he had a very low tolerance for those who abuse the rights of others. I, like him will make our TBI strong again and give hope to those who are abused that these complaints will not go unnoticed. I went with a young man recently in the fall this year to report a threat made to a young college student and it has been overlooked and this your man has suffered because of the lack of someone caring and fearing that someone in high places would be exposed! He was threatened that he would lose his position in the National Guard and guess what within two weeks he did after reporting the incident. Was this in Tennessee, you may ask. My answer is Yes! And together with your vote, I will take away the fear of reporting incidents! You see, the TBI is funded by your taxes and they should under the guidance of the Governor, help to stop the threats being made to our young people.

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