Teen Life Sentence
Cyntoia Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute, smiles at family members during her clemency hearing Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, Tenn.
Lacy Atkins /The Tennessean via AP

Cyntoia Brown Has Been Granted Full Clemency

"Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”

Tennesee Governor Bill Haslam has granted Cyntoia Brown full clemency.

According to the Tennessean, Brown will be released on Wed., Aug. 7, 2019 on time served and with parole of 10 years. The early release comes nearly one month after news broke that the 30-year-old would be required to serve 51 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," Haslam said in a statement. "Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.

After release, Brown will be required to participate in court-mandated counseling and community service, including working with at-risk youth, as well as getting a job. Upon hearing about her imminent release, a grateful Brown thanked Haslam for his "acts fo mercy" in giving her a second chance.

Read her full statement below.

Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.

I want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program. It changed my life. I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world.

Thank you to Dr. Richard Goode and Dr. Kate Watkins and all of you at Lipscomb University for opening up a whole new world for me. I have one course left to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which I will complete in May 2019.

I am thankful for all the support, prayers, and encouragement I have received. We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings. The Lord has held my hand this whole time and I would have never made it without Him. Let today be a testament to His Saving Grace.

Thank you to my family for being a backbone these past 14 years.

I am thankful to my lawyers and their staffs, and all the others who, for the last decade have freely given of their time and expertise to help me get to this day.

I love all of you and will be forever grateful.

With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people.

My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.

Thank you.

Brown was convicted of felony murder and aggravated robbery in 2004 when the opposing council claimed the then 16-year-old shot, killed and robbed real-estate agent Johnny Allen. A survivor of child sex-trafficking, rape, and physical and mental abuse, Brown became widely known after the 2011 documentary, Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story.

After being sentenced to life in prison, Brown's case attracted the attention of celebrities, activists, and supporters pleading for her release.

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The Viral Covington Catholic High School Teen Is Suing The Washington Post

Nicholas Sandmann, the 16-year-old Kentucky teen who went viral after footage showed him wearing a MAGA hat starring at a Native American man, has launched a lawsuit against The Washington Post to the tune of $250 million.

According to reports, Sandmann's lawyers filed a complaint Tuesday (Feb. 19) and argued the newspaper neglected to add context to the video, which resulted in damage to the teen's reputation, as well as him allegedly being bullied and harassed.

"[The Post] intended to harm Nicholas because he was a white, Catholic boy wearing a MAGA hat, and consciously ignored the threats of harm that it knew would inevitably ensue, in favor of its political agenda," the complaint outlines.

Nicholas and veteran Nathan Phillips crossed paths in January at the March For Life protest in Washington, D. C. While at the Lincoln Memorial, Philips was singing and playing a drum after the Indigenous Peoples March. Scenes from the video show teens in the background making tomahawk chopping gestures with their hands as Philips moves through the crowd, as Nicholas is seen smiling directly in his face.

Longer videos, however, provide more background. Black Hebrew Israelites were shouting and a confrontation ensued between Native Americans and tourists. BuzzFeed News spoke with Hunter Hooligan another attendee of the Indigenous People's March and described Nicholas' behavior as "mob mentality."

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsy9_7WFDQO/?utm_source=ig_embed

"What made me feel scared was the mob mentality of the situation," Hooligan said. "That type of tactic of instilling fear and intimidation and overpowering and outnumbering has been a consistent weapon of white supremacy against indigenous people."

The lawsuit claims Nicholas was singled out by the paper's coverage of the incident and was motivated by their own political agenda.

"The Post must be dealt with the same way every bully is dealt with, and that is hold the bully fully accountable for its wrongdoing in a manner which effectively deters the bully from again bullying other children."

Speaking to Buzzfeed News, The Post is planning to "mount a vigorous defense."

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Stockton Launches Basic Income Program Gifting Residents With $500 A Month

Stockton, California has launched its basic income plan gifting dozens of residents with $500 a month, the Huffington Post reports.

Last year, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs responded to criticism over the program which was designed to help close the poverty gap as residents struggle to stay afloat amid California's skyrocketing rent prices and increase in homelessness.

The basic income plan -- the first of its kind to be launched by a U.S. city -- was announced by Tubbs and the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) in 2017. Under the program, 130 residents will receive a monthly stipend via prepaid debit cards for the next 18 months.

Exciting! Congrats to the team, the city, and to the recipients. We’ve learned so much getting to this point and I am looking forward to learning more. Stockton lead the way @stocktondemo #ReinventStockton https://t.co/j2OPkA4zG8

— Michael Tubbs (@MichaelDTubbs) February 15, 2019

Stockton's median household income is just under $50,000 a year. Residents are chosen through an “algorithm” to make sure that the selection is representative of the community’s diversity.

The money is funded by a grant from the Economic Security Project, in addition to other funds raised, Tubbs said.

“There’s no restriction on how people can use the money,” he pointed out. “If people use it for drugs and alcohol that’s there prerogative. [But] if I didn’t believe in the capacity of the folks who elected me to make good decisions, I probably shouldn’t be mayor.”

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Boyfriend Suspected Of Killing Girlfriend And Her Son Jumps In Front Of Train

An ex-con who's suspected of brutally beating his girlfriend and her son to death committed suicide by jumping in front of Metro-North train six hours after the murders.

According to The New York Daily News, Hector Cruz, 51, is believed to have stabbed and used a workout weight to bludgeon Marisol Ortiz, 51 and her 14-year-old son Alanche del Orbe in their Bronx apartment.

Ortiz's 21-year-old daughter, Chantal del Orbe, found the bodies after returning home from a friend's house. Before bursting into tears, Chantal hung a birthday banner over a makeshift memorial created for her brother who was killed a day before his 15th birthday.

“He was sweet all the time,” she said of her brother. “It was all love in that house.”

Grieving friends, family and those in the neighborhood say they have no doubt Cruz is the killer. “Go in peace my aunt with my nephew. Wow, I feel so powerless why do things like this have to happen. My God. Mourning. What a great loss," Emiluz Ortiz wrote on Facebook.

Cruz was released from prison in 2016 after serving seven years for first-degree assault, and while speaking with the Daily News Chantal said Cruz showcased signs of possessiveness.

“He was a bit jealous. He was strange. He would look through (Ortiz’s) phone but he was never aggressive. He always said he wanted the family united,” she said. “He never really convinced me. Days before he was acting strange.”

The crime was so severe, Ortiz’s cousin Haydee Leonardo said it's affected the funeral.

“They’re going to cremate the bodies because they were told that their faces were so brutally beaten, you can’t see who they were. You can’t see their faces,” he said.

Cruz was reportedly killed by a northbound Metro-North train at the Hartsdale station Sunday morning (Feb. 17) at 9:45 AM.

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