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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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Louisville Cop Involved In Breonna Taylor’s Death Defends Actions, Calls Protestors “Thugs”

In an email sent to fellow officers on Tuesday (Sept. 22), Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly of the Louisville Metro Police Department, defended the events that led to the death of Breonna Taylor and called out the city’s treatment of officers, amid Black Lives Matter protests. Mattingly blasted Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, former Louisville FBI agent Amy Hess, and LMPD police chief Steve Conrad, and brazenly referred to protestors as “thugs” who “get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you.”

He went on to claim that demonstrators have thrown bricks and urine at police, and that officers are expected to “do nothing.” The authenticity of the email was confirmed by Mattingyl’s attorney, CNN reports

“It goes against EVERYTHING we were all taught in the academy. The position that if you make a mistake during one of the most stressful times in your career, the department and FBI (who aren’t cops and would piss their pants if they had to hold the line) go after you for civil rights violations,” Mattingly wrote in seeming reference to Taylor’s death, which is being investigated by the FBI. “Your civil rights mean nothing, but the criminal has total autonomy.

“We all signed up to be police officers. We knew the risks and are willing to take them, but we always assumed the city had our back,” he continued. “We wanted to do the right thing in the midst of an evil world to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

Taylor was killed during a March 13 raid led by Mattingly. The 26-year-old EMT was sleeping in bed when officers began firing into her residence without warning. The incident stemmed from an alleged drug investigation involving Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. Taylor was hit at least eight times. Her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was unaware that police were raiding the home and fired back at officers reportedly wounding Mattingly. Walker was indicted for attempted murder of a cop, but the charges were later dropped.

Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and fired LMPD officer Brett Hankison, are under investigation over Taylor’s death. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has yet to announced whether or not charges will be brought against them, but it appears that they may not face criminal reprimand as the city of Louisville issued a state of emergency ahead of an announcement on the case, which could come as early as Wednesday (Sept. 23).

Later in the rant, Mattingly claimed that police aren’t racist. “We as police DO NOT CARE if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, what you identify as…this week. We aren’t better than anyone. This is not an us against society, but it is good versus evil.”

Speaking of the pending investigation over Taylor’s death he added, “I don’t know a lot of you guys/gals but I’ve felt the love. Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night. It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.

“Put that aside for a while, keep your focus and do your jobs that you are trained and capable of doing,” he advised. “Don’t put up with their sh*t, and go home to those lovely families and relationships.”

Read the full email below.

New: LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly (who is being investigated as part of Breonna Taylor’s case) sent an email to around 1,000 officers at 2am that calls protestors thugs, complains about the government enforcing civil rights violations, and claims this is "good versus evil” pic.twitter.com/VcuyPDP790

— Roberto Aram Ferdman (@robferdman) September 22, 2020

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WNBA Player Maya Moore Marries Wrongfully Convicted Man She Helped Get Out Of Prison

When WNBA star Maya Moore first met her now husband, Jonathan Irons, their relationship was strictly platonic. Things changed after she helped to get his wrongful conviction overturned, and the happy couple recently tied the knot.

“We wanted to announce today that we are super excited to continue the work that we are doing together, but doing it as a married couple,” Moore told Good Morning America on Wednesday (Sept. 16). “We got married a couple months ago and we're excited to just continue this new chapter of life together.”

Catch us tomorrow on @GMA with @RobinRoberts! #winwithjustice pic.twitter.com/0z1B1RRS2b

— Maya Moore (@MooreMaya) July 2, 2020

Irons was 16 years old when he was tried as an adult and falsely convicted by an all white jury and sentenced to 50 years for a burglary and shooting. He maintained his innocence throughout, but he would have never been convicted had the case been handled properly. Aside from being wrongfully identified in a lineup, fingerprint evidence that could have proved his innocence was withheld from his lawyers. After serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit, Irons' conviction was overturned in March.

Moore, 31, has known Irons, 40, since she was 18 years old. The two met through a prison ministry program and their relationship slowly transitioned from a friendship to romance. Irons confessed his love for Moore while incarcerated at Missouri's Jefferson City Correctional Center. “I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her because being in a relationship with a man in prison, it's extremely difficult and painful. And I didn't want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to feel open and have the ability any time if this is too much for you, go and find somebody. Live your life. Because this is hard.”

He popped the question in their hotel room following his prison release. “It was just me and her in the room and I got down on my knees and I looked up at her and she kind of knew what was going on and I said, ‘will you marry me,’ she said, ‘yes.’”

Moore, a small forward for the Minnesota Lynx, is taking a break from basketball and has been working alongside her husband to encourage people to vote. The newlyweds also plant to advocate for others who have been wrongfully convicted.

See more on their love story in the video below.

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Louisville Reaches $12 Million Settlement With Family Of Breonna Taylor

It’s been six months since Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police officers while sleeping in her own home. The officers involved in her death, Jonathon Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, have yet to be arrested, but a monetary agreement has been reached to settle a civil lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family.

The city will pay Taylor’s family $12 million in addition to implementing policy reform measures, Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Tuesday (Sept. 15).

“I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain,” Fischer said of Taylor’s mother, Tameka Palmer. “And I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death. Although these steps, including policy changes, do not change the past, I hope this brings some measure of peace.”

Fischer noted that Taylor’s death “ignited” a local and national movement “for racial justice sending thousands into our streets and in cities all across the country and the world — all crying for justice for Breonna.” Taylor’s death has “triggered a renewed commitment to addressing structural and systematic racism” in Louisville and around the country, said Fischer.

“Justice for Breonna means that we will continue to save lives in her honor,” said Taylor’s mother, Tameka Palmer. “No amount of money accomplishes that, but the police reform measures that we were able to get passed as a part of this settlement mean so much more to my family, our community, and to Breonna’s legacy. We know that there is much work still to be done and we look forward to continuing to work with community leaders, the mayor’s office, and other elected leaders to implement long-term sustainable change to fight systemic racism that is plaguing our communities.”

The multi-million dollar settlement is the latest step that Louisville has taken in wake of Taylor being killed by police. In June, the Louisville city council passed “Breonna’s Law” banning no-knock warrants, like the one used to violently raid Taylor’s home on March 13. Police claim that the raid stemmed from a drug investigation that reportedly involved Taylor’s ex-boyfriend who did not live at the residence and had already been arrested.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, called the $12 million settlement a step in the right direction. “This will bring progress and reform out of this tragedy to protect other Black lives,” he tweeted.

Today, we got some #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor! Along with a $12 million civil settlement, we secured comprehensive police reform in Louisville. This will bring progress and reform out of this tragedy to protect other Black lives. pic.twitter.com/DyilAkmWag

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 15, 2020

As part of the settlement, Louisville Metro Government agreed to a list of changes including community related policy programs, search warrant reforms, and police accountability reforms.

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