NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The hashtag #Clemency4CyntoniaBrown continues to get attention on social media this week.
Cyntoia Brown is serving a life sentence in prison for a murder she committed at 16-years-old, and she won't be eligible for release for another 51 years.
This momentum comes as President Donald Trump signs a new criminal justice overhaul bill that will allow thousands of federal inmates to leave prison earlier than expected.
“In some ways it’s ironic that at the federal level we’re moving away from unduly harsh sentences and mass incarceration framework finally, long overdue – and we don’t seem to be having that same kind of traction with Cyntoia Brown,” said Steven Mulroy from the University of Memphis Law School.
Mulroy said it's a shame Governor Bill Haslam didn't include Brown on his clemency list of 11 Tennesseans, especially since one of Haslam's commutations included Nicky Randolph.
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Randolph was commuted to parole supervision for a life sentence by Governor Don Sundquist, and his crime was similar to Brown's.
“One of the [Haslam’s] commutations was a homicide defendant and one of the factors involved in the commutation was that it was a minor at the time of the incident,” said Mulroy.
From Congressman Steve Cohen to four Shelby County Commissioners, there’s been a push from Memphis politicians to free Brown.
While that won’t hurt her case, Mulroy said there hasn’t been the same push for her release from Republicans but said anything is possible.
“It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s not without precedent that republican elected officials have joined the cause for clemency in the right kind of case, and this particular case does seem somewhat sympathetic it,” said Mulroy.
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