||FREE CYNTOIA Community Event
||Theater/Auditorium - The Sonja Haynes Stone Center 150 South Road , Chapel Hill NC
Sonja H Stone Center
- 4:00 PM
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About the Speaker: Cyntoia Brown Long is an author, consultant, and advocate for criminal justice reform and victims of trafficking.
Cyntoia had a difficult start in life. After being trafficked during her early teenage years, at the age of 16, she was arrested for killing a man who solicited her for sex. She was tried as an adult and was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for 51 years. Her trafficker was never arrested.
In prison, Cyntoia’s life took a dramatic turn when the prison education principal took her under her wing and introduced her to a spiritual path. She encouraged her to build a positive life in prison and to resist the negative influences that lead to despair. The journey that followed was a roller coaster ride that included a documentary about Cyntoia’s life, a profound encounter with God, an unlikely romance, and, eventually, a commuted sentence by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. She received unprecedented national and international support from social media advocates, pastors, and celebrities and was released from prison in Nashville, TN on August 7, 2019.
Her memoir, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System (Atria Books), written while in prison, documents her early years and the 15 years she was incarcerated and takes readers on a coming-of-age spiritual journey. Set against the shocking backdrop of a life behind bars and the injustice of sentencing sex-trafficked juveniles as adults, Cyntoia struggled to overcome a legacy of birth-family addiction and a lifetime of being ostracized and abandoned by society. Of her time in prison, Cyntoia says, “I was just a teenager when I was sent to live behind a razor-wire fence. My entire coming of age was within the walls of the Tennessee Prison for Women.”
Cyntoia hopes her story will not only inspire others but also shine a light on the injustice many people still face, especially the injustice to women and children in American prisons. Through her firm, JFAM Consulting LLC, Cyntoia works with service providers, judicial bodies, and correctional agencies to provide training, auditing, and coaching that is designed to develop a dignified and empowering approach to corrections, programming, and case management. Alongside her husband, Jaime, she also co-founded The JFAM Foundation to better serve and advocate for individuals who have been affected by human trafficking, youth services involvement, and incarceration.
Cyntoia was awarded the 2022 Leadership Prize from the Juvenile Law Center for her work in advocating for justice-involved youth. In January of 2020 the Vera Institute of Justice recognized Cyntoia as one of the Best of Justice Reform honorees. She was a 2020 Nominee for the NAACP Literary Image Award and has been featured as a guest columnist for the Washington Post.
As a thought leader for legislative and societal reform, Cyntoia is available to speak to a wide variety of organizations. Her recent keynote appearances include presentations at Georgetown Law School for The Janet Reno Forum, Broward County Children’s Services, the Ohio Attorney General Office’s Human Trafficking Summit, and the State of Louisiana’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative hosted by First Lady and Governor Edwards.