NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Biography/Autobiography
In her own words, Cyntoia Brown-Long shares the riveting and redemptive story of how she changed her life for the better while in prison, finding hope through faith after a traumatic adolescence of drug addiction, rape, and sex trafficking led to a murder conviction.
“Those...years in prison hadn’t just turned me into woman. They transformed me. The girl who desperately wanted to belong, who felt powerless, who clawed, and scratched her way out of every corner she was backed into, was gone.”
At the age of sixteen, Cyntoia Brown, a survivor of human trafficking, was arrested for killing a man who had picked her up for sex. Two years later, she was sentenced to life in prison.
Brown reflects on the isolation, low self-esteem, and sense of alienation that drove her straight into the hands of a predator. Once in prison, she attempts to build a positive path and honor the values her beloved adoptive mother, Ellenette, taught her, but Cyntoia succumbs to harmful influences that drive her to a cycle of progress and setbacks. Then, a fateful meeting with a prison educator turned mentor offers Cyntoia the opportunity to make the pivotal decision to strive for a better future, even if she’s never freed.
In these pages, Cyntoia shares the details of her transformation, including a profound encounter with God, an unlikely romance, an unprecedented outpouring of support from social media advocates and A-list celebrities, and her release from prison. A coming-of-age memoir set against the shocking backdrop of a life behind bars, Free Cyntoia takes you on a spiritual journey as Cyntoia struggles to overcome a lifetime of feeling ostracized and abandoned by society.
About the author
Cyntoia Brown-Long was sentenced to life in prison for killing a forty-three-year-old man after he bought her for sex when she was only sixteen years old. In January 2019, after she served nearly fifteen years at Tennessee Prison for Women, Tennessee governor Bill Halsam granted her full clemency. During her time in prison, Cyntoia earned an associate’s and bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University, a prestigious Christian institution. She also counseled other inmates and started the GLITTER (Grassroots Learning Initiative on Teen Trafficking, Exploitation, and Rape) Project. After her release in August 2019, she hopes to be a voice for justice and victims of sexual violence, and looks forward to starting her life as a recently married woman.