Celebs join calls to free US trafficking victim jailed for murder
WASHINGTON: Actors Amy Schumer and Ashley Judd have backed a campaign for an American woman convicted of killing a man who paid to have sex with her as a child to be given clemency.
Cyntoia Brown was 16 when she was convicted of murder and has been in prison in Tennessee since 2004.
She is not eligible for parole until 2059 and Democrats in Tennessee have asked the state's Republican Governor Bill Haslam to offer her clemency before he leaves office in January.
"I encourage and plead with my Tennessee Governor #BillHaslam to grant #Clemency4Cyntoia," Judd, a strong advocate in the #MeToo movement, tweeted on Monday.
"Cyntoia Brown was a victim of child sex trafficking, raped and forced into paid sexual exploitation to stay alive. She deserves our empathy and your mercy."
Fellow actors Schumer and Elizabeth Banks echoed the call in almost identically worded tweets.
State representative John Ray Clemmons, who was part of a Friday press conference, also took to Twitter to call for clemency.
"The specific facts & circumstances surrounding & presenting Ms Brown's current status warrant clemency in this instance."
In the US, state governors and the president have the right to pardon prisoners or modify their sentences.
Involving anyone under age 18 in commercial sex is considered sex trafficking under US federal law.
But it is common for such minors to be charged with crimes such as prostitution, experts said.
In the US, as many as 1,000 children are arrested each year on charges of prostitution, according to Rights4Girls.
Some 1.5 million people in the US are victims of trafficking, mostly for sexual exploitation, according to anti-trafficking groups.
Most sex trafficking victims are children, they said.
The campaign to free Brown comes amid a wave of new laws vacating convictions and expunging criminal records of child-trafficking victims. - REUTERS