School System receives Accreditation Plaque: School board begins superintendent search

At its monthly meeting held Monday, February 18, 2019, The Greene County Board of Education began its formal superintendent search. The board was in total agreement to engage the assistance of the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) in searching for the top administrator for the Greene County School System. At the December, 2018, meeting, on a 3-2 vote, the board took action not to renew Dr. James Carter’s contract as superintendent. Dr. Carter’s current contract goes through June 2019.
AASB’s search process will include advertising the superintendent search statewide and regionally; receive and screen applications; check credentials and references for all applicants; survey staff and community on desired superintendent qualities and skills; provide an interview guide for the board; submit a final listing of qualified candidates to the board for their interview and final selection.
At this February meeting, Superintendent Carter displayed the plaque the board received asserting the accreditation of the Greene County School System. The plaque reads: Greene County Board of Education has met the criteria for educational quality established by the AdvanceED Accreditation Commission. The board had been previously informed of its approved accreditation status.
In other business the board acted on the following personnel recommendations:

  • Approved resignation of Fentress Means as assistant basketball coach, Greene County High School.
  • Approved appointment of Alfonzo Noland as interim supervisor Maintenance Department.
  • Approved family medical leave for Marcus Steele, bus driver, Department of Transportation, starting Feb.4, 2019.
    *Approved suspension of Suntonna Miles, 6th grade teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, 10 days without pay.
    *Approved salary adjustment for Teresa Atkins, CNP Director.
    The board also acted on the following administrative services recommended by the superintendent.
  • Approved requests to appraise Mt. Hebron property; appraise and survey Eatman property; appraise and survey Birdine property.
  • Approved Corey Cockrell’s travel request to Glazier Coaching Clinic in North Carolina, March 7-8, 2019.
  • Approved initiation of a Wrestling Program at Greene County High School commencing with 2019-2020 school year.
    *Approved payment of all bills, claims and payroll.
    LaVonda Blair, CSFO, presented the following financial summaries as of December 31, 2018:
    General Fund Balance – $822,674.08; A/P Check Register Accountability Report – $208,391.01;
    Payroll Register – $889,953.83; Combined Fund Balance – $3,058,789.39.

Newswire : African leaders put rich nations on notice that days of cheap resources are ending

President of Ghana

Feb. 11, 2019 (GIN) – African leaders had a new message for foreign companies seeking the diamonds, gold, rubies and emeralds so plentiful in desperate dirt-poor countries and so pricey when polished and sold in New York, Paris and Switzerland.
 
We’re no longer a cheap date.
 
That message – in so many words – was heard again and again at this year’s posh African Mining Indaba – a glittering conference in Cape Town, South Africa, that unites investors, mining companies, governments and stakeholders from around the world with the single goal of advancing mining on the African continent.
 
To be honest, not every African leader was threatening to pull “unusual tax incentives” from contracts with western companies. But at least one president drew a line in the sand, declaring it was simply unjust that Africa, rich in minerals sought after by the world, should remain inhabited by the poorest people in the world.
 
Mining deals must be more beneficial for Africa, declared Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, as he pressed governments to end fiscal incentives traditionally used to attract investments in countries rich in resources but considered high risk.
 
“We want you here for the long-term,” he continued, addressing the mining executives from wealthy countries. “Respect the land that provides the riches and be part of the transformation.  It’s time to make Africa prosperous and allow her people to attain a dignified standard of living.”
 
“We should not have to give unusual tax and royalties incentives. And mining companies should not expect to make extraordinary profits on our continent.”

Over the past decade, a number of African governments have reviewed mining contracts, seeking to increase their share of mining profits.
 
Last year, the Democratic Republic of Congo – the world’s biggest producer of cobalt – rewrote its mining code, ignoring the objections of miners. It cancelled existing stability clauses in contracts and raised royalty rates across the board.
 
Neighboring Tanzania, once one of Africa’s best bets for international investors, also cracked down,  hitting gold miner Acacia with a $190 billion tax bill.
 
The company has disputed the claim and its parent company Barrick Gold Corp is in talks with the government.
 
But other African nations, including Angola and Ethiopia, are still seeking to use tax breaks to entice investment to their nascent mining sectors.
 
Resource nationalism was high on the agenda at the just ended 25th African Mining Indaba.
 
Long a major gold producer, Ghana is now seeking to develop its iron ore and bauxite deposits.
 
“Africa has made the world rich with our minerals, our gemstones adorn crowns and homes around the world, it is time to make Africa prosperous, and enable her people to attain a dignified standard of living. Join us in this exciting project for sustainable economic growth,” President Akufo-Addo said. w/pix of Ghana Pres. Akufo-Addo leaving for Indaba
 

Alabama Hospital Association: Two new studies support Medicaid Expansion

By Amy Yurkanin | ayurkanin@al.com

The Alabama Hospital Association released two reports last week laying out almost $3 billion in financial benefits for expanding Medicaid – a step state leaders have declined to consider since the Affordable Care Act ( also known as Obamacare) passed in 2010.
Leaders of the hospital association held a press conference at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Friday morning to tout the findings. The organization has been one of the strongest supporters of Medicaid expansion in Alabama, claiming the move would benefit hospitals and patients.
David Becker, a professor in the UAB School of Public Health, created similar reports in 2012 and 2016 – when federal funds covered all the costs of expanding Medicaid to low-income adults. The match is down to 93 percent this year and will drop to 90 percent in 2020, where it will remain.
Owen Bailey, CEO of USA Health, said the deal still makes sense for Alabama.
“It’s obvious that by expanding Medicaid, the state would have a huge return on investment,” Bailey said. “For every one dollar the state provides, we will get nine dollars to match it.”
Becker’s study found that implementing Medicaid expansion now would be costlier for the state than it would have been in 2014 because of the loss of federal matching dollars and the increased cost from low-income patients who purchase insurance through the exchange. Bailey said 12 hospitals have closed in Alabama in the last eight years.
“The state did miss out on the deal of the century,” Becker said. “I don’t have a time machine. All we can do is look forward. The case for expansion remains very strong.”
Medicaid expansion is one part of Obamacare, which also created regulations on health insurance and subsidies to purchase private insurance. Alabama is one of 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid. Residents of Utah, Nebraska and Idaho recently voted to expand Medicaid in statewide referenda.
Alabama’s lack of action has kept millions in federal dollars out of the state that could help support rural hospitals that often care for the sick and uninsured, said Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.
“Hospitals and healthcare are every bit as important for infrastructure as roads are,” Williamson said. “Otherwise they are building roads to communities that are dying because their hospital has closed.”If Alabama expanded Medicaid, the program would grow to cover adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, the program only covers caregivers of people on Medicaid who earn less than 20 percent of the poverty level. The change in Alabama would add more than 300,000 people to the Medicaid rolls, according to the study.
That expansion would cost Alabama $227 million in 2020, according to Becker’s calculations. The state would receive nearly $2 billion in funds from the federal government that year.
The other study, by consulting company Manatt, said the state could pay up to $216 million in additional costs and get more than $2 billion from federal sources. The state would save additional money in other areas, including medical care for prisoners, Williamson said.
The Alabama Hospital Association has submitted similar reports in 2012 and 2016. Williams said they are hopeful legislators will give expansion serious consideration this year. He said unsuccessful votes to repeal Obamacare and midterm successes by Democrats running on healthcare show the law has staying power.
“For a lot of people, there was a belief that Obamacare was going to disappear,” Williamson said. “The last election has pretty much taken repeal and replace off the table. The number of states, including some very Republican states have gone to expansion and they are seeing the benefits. Our hope is that the reality that this is going to be here, that it’s not going away, will become clear to Alabama lawmakers.”

Bingo facilties contribute $367,705 to local entities for December

Shown above Forkland Town Clerk, Kinya Isaac, Eutaw Chief of Police Derick Coleman, Greene County Superintendent Dr. James Carter, Sr. Greene County Heath System CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Boligee City Councilwoman Ernestine Wade, Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Brenda Burke with the Greene County Commission and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $367,705 for the month of December from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
The following assessments are for the month of December, 2018.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500.

Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.
River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,375 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,375.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.

Greene County officials hold inaugural ceremonies

Greene County’s newly elected Circuit Clerk, Probate Judge and re-elected Sheriff were installed into office last week in the Williams M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw.
Circuit Clerk Veronica Morton Jones was installed Saturday, January 13, 2019 at 12 noon. On hand to welcome her to the position and provide encouraging words were four former Greene County Circuit Clerks who preceded her in office: Mary Snoddy, Johnny M. Knott, Etta Edwards and Mattie Atkins.
The Mistress of Ceremony for Jones’ installation was Drenda Morton. Jones’ daughter Victoria, brought greetings. Prayer and inspirational words were led by Alphonzo Morton, Jr. and Rev. Jerome McIntosh, respectively.
Greene County District Judge, Lillie Jones Osborne administered the Oath of Office. Circuit Clerk Jones introduced her family and expressed deepest appreciation for all who assisted and supported her in this journey. Elected officials present were also recognized. Following the program, dinner was served at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
Greene County Sheriff, Jonathan Benison, was installed for his third term in office on Sunday, January 13, 2019. Carrie Jones served as Mistress of Ceremony.

Invocation and prayer were led by Rev. Edward King and Rev. John Kennard, respectively. Chief Deputy Jeremy Rancher brought the welcome and musical renditions were provided by Monica Turner.
Commissioner Allen Turner recognized elected officials and Cpl. CO. Blake McMillian introduced the guest speaker retired Trooper Steven Davis. District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne administered the Oath of Office, followed by Sheriff Benison’s inaugural address. Following the program, Rev. Kelvin Cockrell gave the benediction and dinner was served at Ruby’s.
The inaugural ceremony for Probate Judge Rolanda Martin Wedgeworth was held Monday, January 14, 2019 at 5:30 pm. Ms. Marilyn Sanford served as Mistress of Ceremony. Invocation and prayer were led by Rev. John Kennard and Rev. Joe Nathan Webb, respectively. City Judge William “Nick” Underwood administered the Oat of Office. Judge Wedgeworth introduced her family and shared expressions of gratitude for all the support and assistance she has received. Mr. Alonzo Thompson gave the benediction and blessing of the food, which was followed by a reception in the courthouse foyer.

Newswire : The Government Shutdown: Another storm for Black farmers, cooperatives, and Southern rural communities, a press release from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Black farm family pose in front of vegetable stand

     Atlanta, GA- It was anticipated that the new Farm Bill would offer hope for improving farming economies into 2019 — especially after major 2018 farm losses from natural disasters and the trade war. However, the government shutdown now in its 19th day has had a chilling effect on economic outlook and optimism for the new year.  Farmers waiting for direct payments, market assistance loans, market facilitation payments and disaster assistance program payments, particularly in a time of farm crisis, are being left high and dry.

        The unexpected disruption in government services means that farmers are looking for support and guidance from farm organizations like the Federation to help them stabilize their farms. The Federation’s Georgia Field Office which is typically busy providing technical assistance to farmers and helping with farm loan applications are getting phone calls from very worried farmers. Cornelius Key, the Federation’s Georgia State Coordinator, who is also a farmer and rancher says, “Small farmers that normally submit farm loan applications in December and January can’t submit loans at the moment. The shutdown will have a domino effect as it ultimately leads to a decreased harvest, greater farm debt, and loan defaults that could translate to land and farm losses.” 
        As a leading non-profit cooperative association representing over 20,000 rural black farmers and landowners, cooperatives, credit unions, and community based economic development groups across the rural south, the Federation historically plays a pivotal advocacy role in bringing equity for black farmers and rural communities through many efforts.
        The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is one of the Federation’s major partners supplying resources through various agencies including Natural Resource and Conservation Service, Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “While the government is shutdown, we are unable to access needed resources as part of our contracts and agreements with the USDA agencies and continue to provide valuable education, outreach, and technical assistance to our membership. The shutdown also makes it difficult to fulfill the financial obligations the Federation has to its staff, partners and vendors. We would like the President and Congress to understand the crippling effect of this shutdown,” Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation said.
        No matter what side of the political fence one falls, farm and rural development advocates will agree that the shutdown will cause much harm if not resolved very soon. Ben Burkett, the Federation’s Mississippi State Coordinator, and a fourth-generation farmer states that ” The soybean farmers are anxiously awaiting delayed payments they were promised because of losses from the trade war. Farmers implementing conservation practices that allow them to manage their farms in the protection of air, water, and soil are delayed.”
        The overall sentiment is hopeful while weathering this storm. For an organization that is 51 years old, this isn’t the worst the Federation has endured; but that all depends on how long this shutdown lasts and the economic impact it has on farms and rural communities.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, entering its 52 st year, assists limited resource farmers, landowners, and cooperatives across the South with business planning, debt restructuring, marketing expertise, and a whole range of other services to ensure the retention of land ownership and cooperatives as a tool for social and economic justice. The overall mission is to reverse the trend of black land loss and be a catalyst for the development of self-supporting communities via cooperative economic development, land retention and advocacy. More information on the Federation can be found at www.federation.coop

Newswire : Government shutdown hits African Americans the hardest

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

With over 50,000 federal employees, the fourth congressional district in Maryland represents the fifth largest number of workers, and Maryland likely counts as the third-largest impacted state by the government shutdown, according to Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown.
“So, I’m hearing about this, like my colleagues, each and every day from my constituents while this shutdown is set to become the longest in the nation’s history,” said Brown, who joined Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.); Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), on a media conference call on Friday, Jan. 11.
The CBC members said they were calling for an end to the shutdown so that workers can again begin to collect their paychecks and critical government services can resume.
During the call, the members discussed the debilitating effects of the ongoing government shutdown as thousands of federal employees are unable to collect their paychecks.
They also denounced President Donald Trump’s threat to declare a state of emergency if Congress refuses to fund a border wall – one in which the president claimed during his campaign that Mexico would pay for.
“This shutdown and the whole issue of the wall is a fake crisis,” Bass said. “At the end of the day, even if he had all the money, it would still take eminent domain to build his wall. That process will take years. This is further evidence that this is a fake crisis and, in my opinion, just an attempt to change our attention away from the numerous impending investigations,” she said.
Thompson, the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, said the shutdown is taking its toll on workers and government operations. “It is a challenge for us in Homeland Security. We have 80 percent of the workforce not being paid. That goes from TSA employees in airports, to the Coast Guard, to the Secret Service, to Custom Border Protection individuals, and all of those individuals who have sworn to keep us safe, are not being paid,” Thompson said.
“On Saturday, Jan. 12, the shutdown entered its 22nd day, a record.
NBC News and other outlets estimate that 800,000 federal employees are furloughed or working without pay because Trump and Congress cannot reach a deal to reopen the government.
They are at an impasse over $5.7 billion for construction of a wall along the southern border. The number of furloughed employees does not include federal contractors, according to a report by NBC News. It’s unclear how many contract or grant employees are affected by the shutdown — or even how many there are in total — but a Volcker Alliance report estimated that nearly 5.3 million worked as contractors in 2015.
Unlike furloughed federal employees, who have received assurances that they will be paid once the shutdown ends, contractors are not owed back pay and that has left them in an even murkier economic position.
Further, communities of color are probably the hardest hit by the shutdown, said Lee, who co-chairs the Steering and Policy Committee and serves on the House Committee on Appropriations.
Black people comprise 12 percent of the country’s population but are 18 percent of the federal workforce, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
“We know that communities of color are disproportionately affected by this irresponsible Trump government shutdown. And today is especially painful for so many workers because it should be payday,” Lee said. Without these paychecks, many federal workers are hanging on by a thread, she said.
“I know there are hundreds of thousands of families out there who are grappling with the anxiety, and really fear, of not being able to pay the bills as this shutdown drags on.
“Let’s be very clear: what’s happening here is President Trump is holding this government hostage and holding people hostage in order to get his useless, wasteful wall,” Lee said.

Rep. Terri Sewell: Democrats introduce sweeping Democracy Reform Package

House Democrats propose Democracy Reform Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, January 4, House Democrats introduced the For the People Act, a package of democracy bills including sweeping election, campaign finance, and ethics reforms designed to give American voters a stronger voice in government. 
The package also includes a commitment to passing legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, which was gutted in the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision. Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) is the lead sponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore the VRA and strengthen protections against discrimination in elections.
 “The American people asked for reforms that give everyone a fair voice in our elections, and Democrats are delivering,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “In Alabama’s 7th District, our families marched, bled, and died for their right to have a fair voice in our democracy, but today new strategies for disenfranchisement are keeping eligible voters from engaging in our elections.
The For the People Act fights back with reforms to stop gerrymandering, strengthen campaign finance laws, and close ethics loopholes. As we begin work in the House to investigate voter discrimination and the state of voter protections in our elections, I am proud to see a commitment in the For the People Act to restoring the vote. There is much work left to do, but today’s introduction takes a big step towards building a government of, by, and for the people.”
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) was sworn in to the 116th Congress on January 3, 2019, beginning her fifth term in the House of Representatives.
 Sewell is one of 102 women who were sworn into the House on January 3 who are a testament to the power of the women who have marched, protested, and voted for their seat at the table.

Alabama Civil Rights Museum announces Greene Co. programs to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday

Spiver Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum announced several programs to honor the life and commemorate the birthday of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be held this month in Greene County.
“It is important for people in Greene County and around the nation to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and to recognize the principles and ideals that he stood for and supported,” said Gordon. “ We should not take a day off but rather a day ‘on’ to study, understand and put into action the teachings of Dr. King,” he added.
On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, the actual day of Dr. King’s Birthday there will be a youth seminar at New Peace Baptist Church in Eutaw, at 10:00 AM, for students at Eutaw High School and people in the community. Kendrick Office, Sumter County football coach will be the keynote speaker. He will be joined by members of the Greene County School Board and other public officials in bringing a special message to youth on the continuing lessons of Dr. King’s life and teachings.
On Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 4:00 PM there will be a “Community Freedom Rally’ at Pine Grove CMC Church in Dollarhide to praise and recognize ‘Godly Men and Women of West Alabama’ counties, including Greene, Sumter, Pickens, Hale, Marengo and Tuscaloosa. Rev. Joe Webb of New Generation Church in Eutaw will be the keynote speaker for this mass meeting.
Monday, January 21, 2019, the official Dr. King National Holiday, will begin with a ‘Freedom Unity Breakfast’ at the Eutaw Activity Center at 8:30 AM. Keynote Speaker will be Rev. Dr. Michael Lavender, Pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church in Clinton, AL. Additional awards and recognitions to ‘Godly Men of West Alabama’ will be presented.
After a march from the Eutaw Activity Center to the William M. Branch Courthouse, the ‘West Alabama Godly Women Program’ will be held, starting at 10:30 AM at the Courthouse. Rev. Dr. Millicent Owens of Greensboro, Alabama will be the guest speaker for this program. Rev. Owens is a radio personality and wife of John Owens, former Mayor of Greensboro.
Gordon also announced that saxophonist and musician Ric Sexton of Detroit, Michigan will be playing and speaking at some of the programs to honor Dr, King. The Greene County Community Choir and the Tishabee Male Chorus will sing and participate in some of the events. The Greene County Chapter of the Alabama New South Coalition will be co-sponsoring these events.
“We have been celebrating Dr. King’s Birthday in Greene County, for over forty years because of his contributions to civil rights and voting rights that made a direct and meaningful change in the lives of Black and poor people, here in Alabama, and around the world. We were part of the protests and movement that led to the declaration of Dr. King’s Birthday as a National Holiday,” said Gordon.

Newswire : Tennessee Governor grants full clemency to Cyntoia Brown, sets August 7 release from prison

By Adam Tamburin and Anita Wadhwani, The Nashville Tennessean

Cyntoia Brown with her attorneys

     Gov. Bill Haslam ordered an early release for Cyntoia Brown, a Tennessee woman and alleged sex trafficking victim serving a life sentence in prison for killing a man when she was 16.

Haslam granted Brown a full commutation to parole on Monday. Brown will be eligible for release Aug. 7 on time served and will stay on parole for 10 years.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Haslam said in a statement. “Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 yearsbefore even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.

“Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”

Brown will be required to participate in regular counseling sessions and to perform at least 50 hours of community service, including working with at-risk youth. She also will be required to get a job.
In a statement released by her lawyers, Brown thanked Haslam “for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”

“With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people. My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.”

The governor’s long-awaited decision, handed down during his last days in office, brought a dramatic conclusion to Brown’s plea for mercy, which burst onto the national stage as celebrities and criminal justice reform advocates discovered her case.

In his commutation, the governor called Brown’s case one that “appears to me to be a proper one for the exercise of executive clemency.”
“Over her more than fourteen years of incarceration, Ms. Brown has demonstrated extraordinary growth and rehabilitation,” the commutation said.

It was a remarkable victory for Brown after years of legal setbacks.
Brown said she was forced into prostitution and was scared for her life when she shot 43-year-old Johnny Allen in the back of the head while they were in bed together.

Allen, a local real estate agent, had picked her up at an East Nashville Sonic restaurant and taken her to his home.

Brown, now 30, was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. She was given a life sentence. Had Haslam declined to intervene, Brown would not have been eligible for parole until she was 69.

The state parole board, which considered Brown’s case in 2018, gave the governor a split recommendation, with some recommending early release and some recommending she stay in prison.

Lawyers for Brown applauded the governor’s decision. “This is truly a joyful moment — for Cyntoia and for all of us who have worked to help her,” the statement from Charles Bone and J.Houston Gordon, Brown’s lead attorneys.”The governor’s decision is proof that our justice system works and it marks the beginning” of a new chapter for Cyntoia.

In recent years, celebrities have highlighted her case, fueling intense interest and a renewed legal fight to get her out of prison.
Activists, lawmakers and celebrities, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, have cited Brown’s case as an illustration of a broken justice system. Brown was a victim herself, they said, and didn’t deserve her punishment.

Her impending release sets the stage for her to join their ranks.
During her time in prison, Brown completed her GED and got a college degree from Lipscomb University. Her allies say she hopes to apply her education by supporting social justice issues through her own nonprofit.