However, it wasn’t until 2017 that she garnered the attention of millions after Rihanna shared Brown’s story on Instagram which sparking the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown to start trending. She’d also been commended for mentoring female inmates and earning her high school equivalency diploma and an associate degree through Lipscomb University, the NY Times reported.
“She is light years today, as a woman, different from the traumatized 16-year-old that she was,” Derri Smith, founder, and CEO of non-profit End Slavery Tennessee, said last January according to CNN. “She’s mentoring … troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a nonprofit so she can help other young people.”
Brown reportedly wrote a book about her life during her incarceration, which is set to be released this fall though she is not doing interviews since her release. She will also be under supervised parole until Aug. 7, 2029. The Department of Corrections said in a statement on Monday that she had prepared for her release by meeting with counselors to design a “re-entry” plan including placement in a transition center and continuing her studies, the NY Times reported.
According to reports, Brown was one of 185 people sentenced as minors to the state’s 60-year mandatory minimum life sentence, the toughest in the nation. Since the release of her documentary, a new law came into place in Tennessee where children under the age of 18 cannot be tried for prostitution meaning if she’d been tried today she’d be considered a victim of child human trafficking.