On his last day in office, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted executive clemency to 23 people. The essential purpose, Haslam said in a written statement, was to better allow people with convictions to have another chance to become contributing members of society.
Tennessee Clemency: Gov. Haslam’s Position
“These individuals receiving pardons have made positive contributions to their communities and are worthy of the forgiveness that may help them restore their rights or obtain employment,” Haslam said in the statement.
Haslam issued 20 pardons and three sentence commutations. Commutations are reductions in the length or type of sentences imposed. A pardon is an official statement of forgiveness that may help to restore one’s rights, such as the right to vote, or to expunge one’s criminal record.
The Case of Cyntoia Brown
These 23 grants of clemency bring Haslam’s total to 45 since he took office. Perhaps the most controversial of Haslam’s sentence commutations involved Cyntoia Brown, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.
Brown says she was forced into prostitution. When a real estate agent named Johnny Allen took her to his home, she fatally shot him in the back of the head while he was lying beside her. She was 16.
Brown served more than 14 years in prison when Haslam commuted her sentence to ten years of parole.
“[I]mposing 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, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life,” Haslam said.
Tennessee Clemency Attorneys
The clemency process can be a difficult path to navigate. If you or a loved one has a conviction and believe there may be grounds for relief, contact the Law Offices of Brandon Sample. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys and staff are familiar with the Tennessee clemency process and are ready to help you.