Cyntoia Brown is going home. We can't go back to business as usual

When news broke on Monday that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam had granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who will be released to parole supervision in August after serving 15 years of a 51-year sentence, joy spread across the country. Activists, politicians, juvenile justice advocates, parents and celebrities cheered the fact that Brown would not spend much of the rest of her life in jail for the murder of a man 30 years her senior who bought her for sex when she was 16.

Since Brown’s conviction, juvenile sentencing guidelines in Tennessee have been amended. Brown, now 30, has furthered her education while incarcerated and is collaborating with Tennessee’s juvenile justice system to help at-risk young people. Her advocates say she plans to start a nonprofit to further her efforts to help other young people. In addition to citing the harshness of Brown’s original sentence in a statement about his decision, Gov. Haslam pointed to the “extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.”

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