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When the System Fails

Karla Reyes, Contributor

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Cyntoia Brown was just 16 when she was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole at age 69. After a childhood of drugs and abuse, from an alcoholic mother who drank during her pregnancy which resulted in Cyntoia having fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, to her being given up to Ellenette Brown when she was only 2. Although Ellenette hadn’t abused Cyntoia, since there hadn’t been sufficient stability in her life before, there wasn’t any emotional development which led to her running away from home in 2004 when she met a pimp named Kut-throat, who had forced her into prostitution.

He would often abuse her emotionally, physically, and sexually.

“He would explain to me that some people were born whores, and that I was one, and that I was a slut and nobody’d want me but him, and the best thing that I could do is learn to be a good whore”, Cyntoia told a judge in a 2012 appeal hearing.

The day her life took a turn for the worse was the day she met Johnny Allen. Cyntoia went home with him after the 43-year-old paid her for sex. She saw many guns in his house and said that his behavior was odd, stating that he would often stand over her. While they were laying down, Cyntoia had stated that she saw him reaching underneath his bed. She thought he was “gonna grab a gun or do something to me.” She then got a handgun out of her purse and shot him fatally in the head once. Afterwards, she took his wallet, explaining that she didn’t want to go back to Kut-throat empty handed because she was afraid he’d hurt her.

Despite Cyntoia’s youth, she was tried as an adult at the age of 16 for first degree murder and aggravated robbery charges.

Today, she is 30-years-old and is still in prison. Celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian had recently found out about her story and as a result, are having their lawyers try to get her sentence shortened.

In my opinion, I think Cyntoia’s circumstances were crucial and what happened to her was unfair. The system failed a young girl and ruined her life, Cyntoia didn’t deserve to spend her youth in prison, she deserved and needed help.

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When the System Fails