Resurfaced Injustice

Wronged by the system?


Courtesy of Jae S. Lee

Cyntoia Brown, a victim of sex trafficking, is serving a life sentence in a Nashville prison for murder.

Amanda Chung, Photojournalist

Cyntoia Brown’s case has resurfaced in recent months after celebrities and activists took to social media with the hashtag, #FreeCyntoiaBrown. People like, Rihanna, Lebron James, Snoop Dogg, Cara DeLevingne, and Kim Kardashian are posting the hashtag on Twitter, trying to make this injustice known to the world.

Miss Brown’s story begins with her upbringing. She was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, and grew up in a hostile, abusive environment. She was forced into sex trafficking by a 24-year-old man who goes by “Cut Throat” and continued to suffer through more physical and sexual abuse. She shot Johnny Michael Allen, a 43-year-old man who had allegedly brought her to his house and hired her for sex, out of self-defense. However, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006, and was tried as an adult. She had to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole only after 51 years (ABC).

“We have been very, very surprised. The entire team, as well as Cyntoia, obviously had no idea that this was going to happen or why it happened, and she is very appreciative of the support from everyone,” Charles Bone, Brown’s attorney, told ABC News, “It is about her, but it’s also about the issues, and I think that’s what she feels strongly about. The issues of sex trafficking and sex slavery and juvenile justice all need a lot of attention throughout the world but especially here in Tennessee.”

But Jeff Burks, who prosecuted Brown, told FOX17 in Nashville that Miss Brown isn’t a victim because “she was not ‘trafficked’ nor was she a ‘sex slave.’” He thinks it isn’t “fair to the victim and his family that the other side of this case is so seldom heard.”

Ashley Bui-Tran (11) thinks that there was indeed injustice in this case, and that Brown’s sentence is too long for her situation. “This girl has been through alot, and she was just a teenager, like us, when it happened,” she says. “I can’t imagine the amount of trauma she had to go through.”

People who support Miss Brown hope that the renewed attention will help her be eligible for parole sooner.