Reader View of the letter in the Chattanoogan

Cyntoia& Given Clemency — January 2019

Given their circumstances when they were tried for murder, it’s no surprise to any survivors that there would be a possibility that Cyntoia& Brown could be plural, but in the Unity request for clemency, it is disclosed that they have the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder (DID) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in addition to any other mental or physical health issues.

Giving a life sentence to a 16-year-old is already questionable, and further complicated by the fact that they were given maximum sentencing without serious regard to whether they were acting in selves-defense, or (in terms of an insanity defense) they actually knew what they were doing was wrong at that moment in a way that would justify the charges and sentence brought down on them, or even to question the fact that they were being tried as an adult in the first place.

Times are changing and public awareness and understanding of human trafficking continues to grow by leaps and bounds thanks to enormous advocacy efforts. In 2004, there simply wasn’t the same cultural awareness there is today, and Cyntoia& has been punished for that lack of understanding for 15 years. Thankfully times have changed, awareness has spread, and it’s high time we (as a society) undo the wrongs we’ve done to those have been wronged.  Cyntoia& has been granted clemency — but not immediate true freedom. She will be released on parole on August 7th.

It would only be fair to continue to speak up and speak out that the only fair and just action would be their immediate release and true freedom to pursue their own life free of stigmatizing government oversight and meddling in their personal and medical affairs.  Freedom “later” is great in context, but insufficient in terms of human suffering, and they have suffered enough.  They should be given support as needed to get back into the community, preferably by their peers.

Linked content is the Unity Group Chattanooga, Sherman E Matthews Jr, Chairman letter as printed in the Chatanoogan of a public demand for clemency for Cyntoia& on Saturday, January 5th — in which they out Cyntoia& as having the symptoms of DID.  Ads on the site may be disturbing and are “above the fold” (no scrolling required). The editor’s letter in itself is excellent reading — if you can grab it with “reader view” or refresh the page if there are disturbing ad images to bring up a different random ad.

The linked article — about 1 and a half pages long — goes into some legal precedents and legislation that has changed the landscape since Cyntoia& was sentenced.

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