Cyntoia Brown Lawyer Reflects On Her Clemency After Serving Time For 2004 Murder05:04
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Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, talks with her attorney, Charles Bone, during her clemency hearing Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, Tenn. (Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP, Pool)
Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, talks with her attorney, Charles Bone, during her clemency hearing Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, Tenn. (Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

Cyntoia Brown, a teenage sex trafficking victim who was serving a life sentence for murder, will be freed in August following Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's decision Monday to grant her clemency.

Charles Bone (@bonelaw), one of Brown’s lead attorneys, says when he broke the news to his client, who is now 30 years old, she "did a little dance."

"We all were very, very excited to share that news with her," Bone tells Here & Now's Robin Young. "And she's so thankful and looking forward to the future."

Brown was incarcerated in 2004 for killing a man she said hired her for sex when she was 16. Her lawyers said she was a runaway who was trafficked by a man who raped her and forced her into prostitution.

"You just have to think about the fact that a 16-year-old who's never had a driver's license, never voted, never had a job would now at age 30 begin that walk outside the prison walls."

Charles Bone

In 2011, filmmaker Dan Birman produced a documentary about Brown’s case called "Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story," and in 2017, a renewed effort to free her garnered international attention, leading many, including celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, to tweet #FreeCyntoiaBrown.

"The team who's been working on this and Cyntoia are very grateful for all of the support she has had,” Bone says. "We were shocked that it became such an international opportunity for people to speak out on this issue."

Bone says he doesn't think the case's global attention — and the phone calls Haslam received because of it — necessarily influenced the governor’s decision to grant Brown clemency. However, Haslam "did really study and pay attention to the rehabilitation of Cyntoia," Bone says.

Brown's next steps are unclear. "You won't hear from her I don't think until ... she's released — and maybe not even then," Bone says. "You just have to think about the fact that a 16-year-old who's never had a driver's license, never voted, never had a job would now at age 30 begin that walk outside the prison walls."

Bone says he thinks Brown will be a great voice, though, for prisoners in similar circumstances who hope to rehabilitate themselves and "who need hope that they can also survive and become the viable citizen that she's gonna be."

"I hope that if they rehabilitate themselves in any way like Cyntoia has that some governor somewhere would recognize that rehabilitation and give them the same opportunity that Governor Haslam has given Cyntoia," he says.


Ashley Bailey produced this interview, and Peter O'Dowd edited it for broadcast. Jackson Cote adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on January 8, 2019.

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