Looking to better times, New Friends New Life Luncheon Co-Chairs Jane A. Rose and Jessica Turner-Waugh and Honorary Co-Chairs Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell have just announced the speaker for the fundraiser on Friday, September 18, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.
It is a woman who has suffered through the repercussions of sex trafficking and the need for criminal justice reform. Her name is Cyntoia Brown-Long. Like too many, her story starts when she was just a teenager. Being forced into prostitution, she was arrested at the age of 16 for killing Johnny Michael Allen, who had paid $150 to have sex with him. Despite being a juvenile, she was “sentenced as an adult to life in prison” for robbing and killing him. She wouldn’t be up for parole until the age of 67.
During her tenure in the Tennessee Prison for Women, Cyntoia earned her GED, an associate degree in Liberal Arts and Bachelors of Professional Studies in Organization Leaders from Lipscomb University. She also married musician and entrepreneur Jaime Long.
Thanks to celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dog and LeBron James, Cyntoia’s story went viral resulting in Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granting her full clemency, and she was released from prison last August. Two months later her book, “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” was released.
In announcing his decision, Haslam said, “After careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case … imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh.”[
According to NFNL CEO Kim Robinson, “While we have made great strides in the way lawmakers and society view those forced into modern-day slavery, there is much work to be done, and it is critical that we continue having these conversations.”
Tickets for the luncheon are available here!
* Photo credit: Flip Holsinger