With every gavel struck, Black people are reminded the justice system, is not nor has it ever been designed for us. In 2004, then 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for killing Johnny Mitchell, a 43-year-old man who had purchased her for sex. According to her sentence, the previous sex-trafficking victim will be eligible for parole when she is 69-years-old.
In 2011, Daniel Birman filmed a documentary following her case. After years of being drugged, raped and sex trafficked, Brown took matters into her own hands, and fought for her life. Since then, the documentary has resurfaced, and social media is outraged – causing many celebrities to rally behind her for her freedom.
A picture has since gone viral across Facebook and Instagram, with a caption detailing the horrific details of the Brown’s life. The photo has since been shared by Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, T.I. and other non-celebrities in efforts to refocus the attention on what many see as an unjust punishment handed down.
According to the documentary, Brown was tried as an adult in Tennessee for killing the child predator after he solicited her for sex. Brown was found guilty of murder and prostitution.
Thanks to the film, the law was changed in Tennessee in 2011. Now, any person 18 years of age or younger cannot be charged with prostitution, meaning if Brown’s case came to trial in 2017, the court would treat her as a child human trafficking victim. Yet she still sits in prison serving a life sentence.
Though 13 years of her life has been stolen, hopefully the #FreeCyntoiaBrown social media campaign will bring awareness and place her case back before the courts. If Brown’s case is reconsidered, her triumphant release will be a triumph for others who have suffered at the hands of this heinous crime and never saw justice.