She was released from prison in August after serving 15 years behind bars.
The case of Cyntoia Brown is polarizing in pop culture. As a youth, her father wasn't in her life and her mother was a crack addict. She would be placed with a family who loved and provided for her, but her run-ins with the law landed her in the care of the Department of Children's Services. She ran away from the facilities she was left in and connected with nefarious characters on the streets. It was then, as a teenager, that she later met a man who became her pimp and reportedly repeatedly sexually assaulted her and forced her into sex trafficking. An incident in 2004 when she was 16-years-old would change her life forever.
In August of that year, she encountered 43-year-old Johnny Michael Allen in a Tennessee parking lot and within 24 hours, he would be dead. According to Cyntoia, she acted in self-defense when she shot him in the back of the head, but the system believed otherwise. She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 51 years in prison. Over a decade later, Cyntoia's case was back in the limelight, and there was celebrity attention from people like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, LeBron James, and Snoop Dogg who rallied behind the incarcerated young woman.
Cyntoia was granted a release this past August and has written an autobiography, Free Cyntoia, that chronicles her journey. Now 31-years-old and married to former Pretty Ricky member Jaime Long, Cyntoia is sharing her story with the world. She recently appeared on the Today show where she was told that the family of victim Johnny Michael Allen said of her release: “The judicial system has failed again for victims everywhere.”
Responding to the criticism, Cyntoia offered up an apology to the grieving family. "The way they feel is completely understandable, she said. "I don't think that we can tell someone how to feel when they've been through something like that. I completely understand. They've lost a loved one. I took that person from them. Of course, I would tell them that I apologize. If they would ever want an opportunity to speak with me, I'd be more than happy." Some have praised her for her reaction, while others couldn't possibly see the point of the victim's family sitting down with her. Check out her clip below.