These days, many in the hip-hop community have been critical of the criminal justice system, particularly when the complexities of race relations are added to the mix. Many notable inconsistencies have led to some serious skepticism; consider the fact that Meek Mill got up to four years in prison for a parole violation, while student athlete Brock Tuner was only given six months for assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, among other charges. Suffice it to say, public discourse has been increasingly critical of the American criminal justice system, and outspoken artists like T.I. are always quick to throw their hats into the debate. Such was the case last night, when Tip Harris threw up a photo of Cyntoia Brown, along with the caption "Free da GOAT."
In case you're wondering, Cyntoia Brown is a young woman currently serving a life sentence in the Tennessee Prison For Women, for the murder of a man named Johnny Allen. While the details of the case are extensive, and can be read about in greater detail here, Brown was ultimately the product of a difficult upbringing, which found her violently forced into prostitution at the age of sixteen. She ended up meeting Allen, a real estate agent, and going back to his place, where he allegedly began boasting about his guns. She was afraid that he meant to do her harm, and ended up fatally shooting him. Despite reports that she suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome which may have impaired her judgement, Brown was eventually tried as an adult, and given a life sentence. She is currently twenty-eight years old, and has recently obtained her degree from Lipscomb University's in-jail program.
Again, that's a very simplified version of the case, and if you're interested in diving into Cyntoia Brown's tragic story, you can catch a BBC documentary above. Clearly, Brown's plight is on both T.I. and Rihanna's minds, as both artists recently posted her picture on their IG pages. While TI's message was straight to the point, RiRi's was more heartfelt, stating: "did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause..... 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!"
It seems the case of Cyntoia Brown is more topical than ever before, and it wouldn't be surprising to hear her name come up more frequently in the public discourse.