Cyntoia Brown spent 15 years in jail for killing a man who was allegedly soliciting sex after being a victim of sex trafficking as a teenager. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder in 2004 at the age of 16.
She is now free.
“I look forward to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation,” the 31-year-old said in a statement.
Last year, her story began to trend as celebrities such as Rihanna and Kim Kardashian began calling for her release due to the terrible conditions she had found herself in.
“Did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way??” Rihanna had commented at the time. “Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child’s sentence I hope to God you don’t have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!”
In one of his last actions in office, former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam decided to grand Brown clemency, and commuted her life sentence.
She received an associate degree from Lipscomb University in 2015, and more recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in May.