Cyntoia Brown-Long, the Tennessee woman who spent 15 years in state prison for killing a man who allegedly solicited her for sex as a teenager, is offering an apology to his family.
In one of her first television interviews since being released in August, Brown-Long told NBC’s “Today” that the frustration felt by the family of Johnny Mitchell Allen, whom she shot dead in 2004 when she was 16, “is completely understandable.”
“They’ve lost a loved one, and I took that person from them, and of course I would tell them that I apologize,” the now 31-year-old said Tuesday. “If they would ever want an opportunity to speak with me, I would be more than happy to speak to them.”
Though Brown-Long said she was a victim of sex trafficking when she met the 43-year-old Allen and killed him out of fear for her life, she was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison. Initially, she wasn’t eligible for parole until 2055. However, in January, Tennessee’s then-governor, Bill Haslam (R), granted her executive clemency so that she could be freed.
Brown-Long’s case had sparked public calls for her release, even attracting attention from such celebrities as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, who advocated for her freedom.
While behind bars, Brown-Long earned a high school diploma and then an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree from Nashville’s Lipscomb University, married Christian hip hop artist Jamie Long, and wrote a memoir, “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” which hit store shelves on Tuesday.
Now, for the first time as an adult, Brown-Long is establishing her life outside prison.
“It’s been amazing,” she told “Today.” “I get to wake up every day, decide what I want to do with my day, get to be with my husband, get to be with my family. It’s just being free.”