Photo: Lacy Atkins (The Tennessean via AP, Pool)
Cyntoia Brown was just 16 years old in 2004 when she was arrested and charged with the murder of 43-year-old Johnny Allen. She was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison.
In January 2019, former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted Brown clemency and commuted her sentence. Brown, who is now 30, will be released from prison on Aug. 7 after having served 15 years.
Her story, which is one of sexual exploitation and the failure of the system to protect a teenager, will now be the subject of a criminal justice documentary on Netflix.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the streaming giant has tapped Daniel H. Birman—who spent six years producing and directing the 2011 documentary Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story—to direct the feature Netflix has acquired, which will tell the story of Brown’s incarceration and her subsequent fight for freedom.
In the yet-to-be-titled doc, Birman will document the still-ongoing updates in Brown’s story, which began in 2004, when a then 16-year-old Brown was arrested in Nashville, Tenn., for murdering a 43-year-old man who solicited her for sex. Brown was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. But this year, after nearly 10 years of legal challenges, Gov. Bill Haslam granted her request for clemency. He did so following a slow shift in the state for legislative change in juvenile sentencing laws and having seen evidence of her maturity, education and good behavior as a prisoner.
The film will cover Brown’s release from prison early next month.
If ever there was a story that needed to be told, it is this one. Hopefully, Brown will have the opportunity to share some of her story in her own words.