The Redefine Twenty Team is ecstatic that Cyntoia Brown has been granted clemency and wish the best for her. However, Brown’s case reveals how the justice system disadvantages minority groups and advantages privileged groups. For those who aren’t familiar with the Brown case, Brown is a victim of sex trafficking and ended up shooting 43 year old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen as an act of self-defence. Brown was then charged for murder. Brown was coerced into prostitution and was only 16 when she shot Allen. Brown was charged for murder and received a life sentence for his murder and she would only be eligible for parole, after serving at least 51 years, AT LEAST. Brown also has a troubled past, from being abandoned by her biological mother, which eventually led to her failure in the foster care system, to being abused by her boyfriend. It is evident that the punishment did not fit the crime, since she was a minor and was a victim of coercion and rape. It is also clear that the justice system failed to recognize the circumstance of Brown and rather treated her harshly because she is a poor, black woman.
Fast forward to 14 years, Brown has finally received clemency. Even though, it has been a long and exhausting journey for Brown, the case represents how the justice system favours the privileged and continues to suffocate and entrap minorities. Brown has only been released due to international attention, recognition from celebrities and constant uproar from the media, however if it were not for the constant outcry for Brown, would she have been released? Even so, Brown will be released on August 7th, even though she has already spent 14 years in confinement. She will continue to be monitored even after being confined for 14 years, while Brock Turner, who was a Stanford athlete, was charged with sexual assault and only received 6 months of jail confinement and three years of probation. She is going to have to find employment and must attend regular counselling sessions while, George Zimmerman who murdered 17 year old Trayvon Martin, got acquitted of all charges. Brown will also need to gain 50 hours of community service and learn how to cope from this traumatizing experience, while Brianna Brochu who was able to avoid a criminal record, after contaminating products and items of her roommate, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe. Brown isn’t completely free and will require a lot of time and support to heal, due to the failure of the American “Justice” System. The case is proof how we can change the world for others and push for equity, however we also need to recognize how institutions ultimately change the fate of those who do not receive the same international attention as Brown, and usually end up enslaved to a system that dictates the outcomes of their lives.
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