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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  October 18, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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10/18/19 10/18/19 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> i do pray that you show me mercy and you give me a second chance. that is my prayer. and i can assure each and everyone of you that if you do, i won't disappoint you. i'm not going to let you down. cyntoia brown-long. she was forced into sexual
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slavery as a child and sentenced to life in prison after been convicted of first-degree murder for shooting her rapist as a teenager. shooting happened when she was just 16 years old but she was tried as an adult. the after years of protest, she was granted clemency by former tennessee governor bill haslam. she was released just two months ago at the age of 31 and has now published her memoir "free cyntoia: my search for redemption in the american prison system." >> to any young women and girls who find themselves in the situation i was in, i would say that there are people that hear you. there are people who understand what you're going through. i understand. i have been through it myself.. and there were times i did not think i was going to make it, but the lord brought me through it and he can bring you
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through it as well. just keep faith and keep fighting. amy: we will speak with cyntoia brown-long in one of her first interviews after prison. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. shelling is continuing in northern syria one day after turkey agreed to a u.s. plan to halt its assault on kurdish-controlled areas for five days. turkey invaded the region after president trump withdrew u.s. support for the kurds. vice president mike pence announced the deal after meeting with turkish president recep tayyip erdogan in ankara. pause turkish side will operation p spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of ypg forces from the safe zone for
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120 hours. all military operations under e spring will be paused and it will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal. amamy: turkey has s refused to l the deal a ceasefifire. on thursday, a kurdish commander sasaid they would accept the del but only along part of the border. "the new york times" reports the deal "amounts to a near-total victory for r turkey's presiden" it would allow turkey to keep occupypying parts of northern syria. in addition, the u.s. would lift its sanctions on turkey. it remains unclear what will happen to kurds who live near the turkish border. former obama official colin kahl told the guardian -- "if they really think they're going to push the kurds all the way back to behind the m4 highway, that's a huge population transfer. it would involve massive ethnic cleansing essentially." meanwhile, amnesty international
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is accusing turkey of committing war crimes by carrying out summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians in northern syria. kurdish authorities report at least 218 civilians have been killed in the turkisish offensie , including 18 children. acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney publicly confirmed president trump thursday blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to ukraine in an attempt to pressure kiev to investigate the democrats. house democrats say mulvaney's admission could mark a turning point in the impeachment probe. mulvaney made the comments while being questioned during a televised prpress briefing at te whitite house. >> he also mentioned to me the corruption related to the dnc server? absolutely. no question. but that is it. that is why we held up the money. >> so demand for the investigation into the democrats was part of the reason to withhold funding to ukraine?
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>> the l look back to what happened in 2016, certainly was part of what he was worried about incorruption with that nation. that is appropriate. >> what yoyou described as a q d pro quo. it is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the democratic server happen as well. >> we do that all the time with foreigign policy. amy: mick mulvaney went on to continue to defend the admiministration's actions. >> i have news for everybody. get over it. there is going to be political influence in foreign policy. amy: mick mulvaney's comments shocked many in washington for directly undercutting president trump's claim that there was no quid pro quo with ukraine. hours after the news conference ended, mulvaney accused the media of misconstruing his comments, issuing a statement contradicting his previous remarks. the statement read in part -- "let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo
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between ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election." the u.s. ambassador to the european union, gordon sondland , confirmed to house impeachment investigators that president trump had delegated rudolph -- rudy giuliani, his personal attorney, to be in charge of foreign policy around ukraine, sidestepping the state department. sondland said -- "i did not understand, until much later, that mr. giuliani's agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the ukrainians to investigate vice president biden or his son or to involve ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president's 2020 re-election campaign." in related news, energy secretary rick perry has announced he is resigning by the end of the year. he was recently subpoenaed as part of the house impeachment inquiry ovover his role in ukraine. the white house has announced the next g7 summit will be held
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at the trump national doral miami golf resort in miami. -- in florida. the announcement was widely criticized. robert weissman, the president of public citizen, said -- "it's hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the constitution's anti-corruption provision than the president steering foreign governments to stay at his luxury resort property." on thuhuday, actining white houe chief of staff mick k mulvaney dismissed the criticism, claiming the white house had determined the trump-owned resort to be the best possible sitete in the entire country to host the summit. >> we know the environment we live in. you all know the environment. he knows exactly he is going to get these questions and get that reaction from a lot of people, and he was simply saying, ok, i'm willing t ttake that.t. the same he takes it when he goes to m mar-a-lago. he got over that a long time ago. we absolutely believe this is the best place to have it.
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they're going to be folks who will never get over thee fact it is a trump property. we get that, b but we'rere still going to go there. amy: acting chief of staff mulvaney also revealed one of the world's most pressing issues -- the climate crisis -- will not be on the agenda at the g7. >> as we are looking at the content of what you want to do next year, it is probably going to be hot in the florida in june. will be climate change be one of the issues discussed? >> climate change will not be on the agenda. amy: in news from afghanistan, civilian casualties have reached a nenew high. the united nations reports a recordrd 4300 civilians wewere injured or k killed in afghanisn between july and septembmber. these are the highest figures since the u.n. began counting in 2009. this comes as the u.s. is intensifying its air. last month, , u.s. air f force aircraft d dropped 948 misissils and bombs, more than i in any month in five years. british lawmakers are scheduled to vote saturday on a new brexit
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deal reached between british prime minister boris johnson and the european union. opposition leader jeremy corbyn said the labour party cannot support the brexit deal. >> this is a day when the primie minister seems to have made a deal with eueuropean union, whih does not give us the complete freedom of movement between britain and northern ireland because it creates a customs union border down the irish sea. does nothing to deal with all of the concerns we have raised during theresa may's prime minister ship. the deal we proposed is s having britaiain and the direction of a deregulalated society. amy: in chicago, citywide strike by teachers and schools support staff has entered its second day was to it forces the closing of the nations third largest school system.
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25,000 teachers represented by the chicago teachers union as well as 7500 support staff represented by seiu launched their strike on thursday. the new york city council has approved an $8 billion plan to close rikers island by 2026 and build four new jails across new york city, in what many are calling a national model for prison reform. new york city council speaker corey johnson backed the closing of rikers. >> conditions matter. these jails are disgusting. these jails should have been closed years ago. we are doing it today. i will probably vote yes. thank you all very much. amy: for decades, human rights activists have protested the violence, abuse, and mismanagement inside rikers island and have called for its
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closure. yet many activists now oppose the plan to replace rikers with four new jails. the group no new jails nyc staged a protest outside city hall on thursday. this is a member of the group. the same mayor and a lot of the same city council members voted to increase the nypd budget by over $100 million to hire more cop now they want to who knows how many billions of dollars building what would be the tallest skyscraper jails in the world. the so-called progressives need to spend the money on what would keep new yorkers safe and out of jail, things like housing, education, health care including mental health care. these are the things the city should be spending resources on instead of locking up our children come our children's children. they're talking about multigenerational jails. we are here to stop them. amy: in louisiana cuban , a asylum-seeker died of an apparent suicide while being held at an ice detention center.
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the aclu condemn the debt saying "we will not stand by while ice and torches people who are exercising their right to seek asylum in the united states." meanwhile, the group freedom for immigrants is reporting to cuba asylum seekers detained in new mexico recently slit their wrists and at least 19 others are planning on doing so in an act of mass resistance. the general strike has shut down much of barcelona and the catalonia region of spain today. this comes after days of streets protests by catalan separatists. on monday, the spanish supreme court's decision to sesentence nine catalan separatist leaders to up 13 years in prison over their role in catalonia'a's 2017 bid for independence. lebanon is witnessing its largest protests in years. earlier today, demonstrators blocked roads with burning tires and marched in beirut. on thursday, the lebanese
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government dropped a plan to institute new taxes on calls made through whatsapp. protesters condemned the lebanese government for failing to tackle the country's economic crisis. >> we are all poor and we are asking for jobs, for our rights, electricity, water. we are demanding education. we want to live in dignity. amy: mexican security forces briefly captured one of the sons of el chapo on thursday, but then released him after authorities came under attack by heavily armed drug cartels. ovidio guzman lopez, a leader of the powerful sinaloa cartel, was detained in the city of culiacan during a routine police check. but then members of his cartel responded by laying siege to the city, overwhelming the police and mexican national guard. fighting raged for hours. at least two people died. the mexican police eventually withdrew and released guzman. at l least 20 0 prisoners also
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escaped during the chaotic day. and the legendary cuban ballerina alicia alonso has died at the age of 98. she was the founder of the internationally renowned national ballet of cuba. despite being partially blind, she became one of the most celebrated dancers in thee worl. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. at the age of 16, she was arrested for killing a man who picked her up for sex after she had been forced into sexual slavery as a child. she was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder for shooting her rapist. today cyntoia brown-long joins us to share her experience, what has happened in the 15 years since she was incarcerated, and how she won her release. in an incredible development, cyntoia was granted clemency in january after former tennessee
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governor bill haslam commuted her sentence for murdering 43-year-old johnny allen, a estate agent who took her to his home for sex. cyntoia says allen was behaving erratically and owned a number of guns, and that she feared for her life when she shot him in the head and made her escape. at the time, she was being sexually trafficked and repeatedly abused and drugged, and forced into prostitution by a pimp nicknamed "kut-throat." she was just 16 years old at the time of the shooting, but she was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in 2006 without the possibility for parole until 2055. juveniles in tennessee who are sentenced to life in prison must spend at least 51 years behind bars. cyntoia's case drew widespread attention on social media under the hashtag #freecyntoiabrown. pop superstar rihanna wrote -- "something is horribly wrong
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when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life!" after her repeated appeals in the case were denied, cyntoia spoke at her clemency hearing in january. >> i can't make up for what i did, but they have given me a chance to do so much more. i have been able to help people, which is amazing. young people. young kids. and they listen. and i am still going to try to help people. i still am because it is something people need to understand, something people need to know. there are so many things that i understand now that i did not know. and there are so many young people who still don't know. and i feel called to share that. you decide, i respect it. i do pray you show me mercy and you give me a second chance. that is my prayer. and i can assure each and everyone of you that if you do,
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i won't disappoint you. i'm not going to let you down. amy: that was cyntoia brown-long speaking in january. she was ultimately granted clemency and released from prison in august. she is now 31 years old. this week she published a book about her experience and is doing her first interviews. her memoir titled "free cyntoia: my search for redemption in the american prison system." welcome to democracy now! it is great to have you with us. so you were sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 years old. if you would go back in time and tell a as what happen on the nit what led to,004, well, everything that is happened now, although there was so much before it. >> on the night of august 7, i was involved with a man by the
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name of kut-throat, as you mention, and i was going out meeting with men, having sex for money. and one of the men who had picked me up was a 43-year-old man, real estate agent. he took me back to his home. acting really strange. i started to feel like i was in a situation that i just could not get out of -- although, i just wanted to leave. very uncomfortable. he was showing off his guns, things like that. things really escalated. they came to a point where i shot him. i felt something was about to happen to me. i left, went back to the room -- amy: got in his pickup truck. >> right. that was the only way i could go back. i went back to the hotel room that i shared with kut-throat.
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within 24 hours, the police had come and arrested me. i spoke with them freely. myself, sod defended i did not have anything to h hi. the next thing i know, i'm being charged with criminal homicide. amy: how much can you understand as at the time you were 16? >> right. i really did not understand the gravity of the situation that i was in, the situation that led to me being arrested. and of course, the entire arrest process, the charging process, i did not get it. -- thed directive detective spoke to me before i went into the confession room. he just said, talking to me is going to be the difference between nine years and 99 years. so the choice to me was obvious. amy: no lawyer with you. >> no lawyer, no parents. i did tell them i was 19 because that is what kut had told me to
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say if the police ever got me. i could not tell them i was 16. however, they did find out after the fact that i was 16 years old . still did not attempt to try to call my parents, try to call a lawyer, or anything like that. amy: take us back. you're referring to kut-throat, and then you've come to see in a very different way than you did as a child. even though what happened that sentence ofto your life in prison, i want you to go back in your own life now and tell us about where you were born and what led you to the point you are on that fateful night. at fortwas born campbell, military base, raised in a military community, very supportive community. my family was very supportive. my mother is a teacher. my father is retired military. had pretty much everything that
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i needed as a child. i would go to school and other kids started pointing out i was different from my parents. i was different from other people. did not really feel like i fit in anywhere. i was kind of treated as an outcast. behavioro develop problems, attitude problems. the school labeled me as the bad kid. started finding out that teachers wanted to just get rid of me. they would put me in iss for little smart remarks that just are natural for certain kids. found myself in alternative crowd. around the wrong alternative schools are pretty much like the school's version of prison. it is somewhere just to toss kids. amy: in sixth grade you were tossed out of school? >> right. so started getting in deeper with different things, started skipping school. i wound up catching my first charge with some of the other kids i had met at alternative
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school. then i entered into the juvenile justice system.'s pretty much downhill from the time i entered alternative school. from juvenile justice system i started running from state custody, from the facilities they had placed me in. i started staying on the streets and nashville. i was on the streets and nashville with the people i had met from running away whenever i was introduced tokut. amy: explain who kut-throat was. >> i had known him just for a few weeks. i had met him right after i had been raped for the first time. a lot was going on. i had always wanted acceptance from other people. i had always wanted to be seen as though i belonged somewhere. so it was rather quickly that i found myself just drawn to him. i felt he listened to me in ways
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that no one else listened to me. i really felt in my head that i was in a relationship with this man. so when it came time for him to say, we need money for this we need money for hotel and this is what you can do it was like, ok, i'm going to do this because i love this person. and i am just contributing to the relationship. completely unhealthy thought patterns that i had developed from actually being on the run, learning unhealthy behaviors, unhealthy understanding of sexual relationships. i really had come to see my body as a good to be traded for shelter, for food, for money for the things i needed to get by. so with all of those seeds already planted, it was -- his work was already done. amy: he drew a gun on you, strangled you. >> it did not start out that
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way, naturally. i don't know many people who would stay in a situation when it starts out that way. they always start out nice, very charming. and then it would lead to he would just snatched me up a little bit, shake me up. with lectures. and, like hours on end. telling me you're nothing but a slut, no one will ever want you but me. in m my mind i was like, this is not true. but you have to think how that is really sinking into me. i was already in a low place. there were times -- one time he choked me until i passed out. the man could have killed me. that was on the night right before i had met mr. allen, the man i ended up shooting. i had really come to expect violence from men. i really think that played a big role in what happened that night . it would take years for me to really just unpack everything,
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to really process all the trauma i had really built up. amy: when did you come to understand you have been placed in the foster care system as an infant? >> i was never placed in the foster care system. i was actually adopted directly from my biological mother. so she had asked the family that i was with to take care of me. she was incarcerated. she was in and out of jail. they adopted me directly from her. i was never placed in foster care. amy: when did your parents explain that to you? >> i found that out -- i guess i was five. whenever i had started school. i was in the classroom and your parents bring you to school because it is the first day of class. as the teacher is talking with my mom and dad, i am plain with the other kids and i can remember one of the other little me, why don't i look
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like my parents. my father is dark skinned -- my mother is dark skin and my father as well. i never really thought about it. i did not feel any different. they did not treat me any different so there was no reason for me to really know i was different. one question led to other questions to a full-blown interrogation from kids. that is what they do. one answer is never good enough. i remember getting in the car with my mother after class. i asked her. she explained to me that i was mixed and i was adopted and introduced me to this mystery woman that i came from. that kind of set up this lens for me where i started feeling like, oh, i really don't fit here, do i? i don't fit here, either. it was a seed that had been planted. amy: explain the moment when you were in one facility or school
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and your parents could not comoe to pick you up, so they sent a family friend who had been sexually abusing you. >> well, he had not been sexually abusing me, he had made an inappropriate comment. i was actually -- i had come back from court, from the facility. the court did not tell my parents i was having court that day. they just brought me up from the center and they were going to release me. my mother was at work and she could not justly. she did not have a substitute. she called my father. my father was trucks at the time and he called his friend to come pick me up. amy: how old were you? >> i was 12. 12 come about to be 13. maybe i was 13. somewhere around there. and he calledd his friend to come pick me up. his friend -- i was previously on a trip with him whenever my parent had gone out of town for their anniversary.
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the people we were with had sent me out to go tell him to come inside, to come into the cabin because dinner was ready. whenever i went out, he was sitting in his truck with his like hanging out, door open, on the phone with someone. whenever i said, hey, it is time to eat, he had spoken of the person on the phone and he was like, "yeah, it is my homeboys daughter. she is one of those girls that developed and all the right places." on lifetimeraised movies, so i knew there were certain trigger words that were not ok. i mother nature i understood that. i slammed the door on his leg and ran inside. i told the group i was with what had happened. i'm expecting, they're fixing to go in on this man. this is not ok. he the reaction i got was, walks in and they just hand him a plate of steak and everybody just sits and talks normally. so it's like, wait a minute, my
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mom always told me i needed to tell someone, speak up about things. i do it and nothing happens. so fast forward all of these months later and he comes to court to pick me up. when i tell the woman at court, the clerk, i'm not going with him, i don't feel comfortable leaving with him, being alone with this man, she tells the judge and the judge says, fine, we will put you in state custody. state custody is the worst fear of every kid who has been involved in the juvenile justice system because it is the most severe punishment they can give you. for me being 13 years old, that meant they could haul me up until i was 19 years old because it is an indeterminate sentence. it is like, wait, i'm being punished now? i was going to get to go home but because i don't cook comfortable about this man and i spoke up about it, now i can't go home? definitely was not healthy. definitely d did not teach me it was a good thing to speak up for
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myself, good thing to advocate for myself. it taught me the exact opposite. amy: we're going to go to break and come back to this discussion. we are talking to cyntoia brown-long. she's a sex trafficking survivor who was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder. in january of this year, the former tennessee governor client at her dish granted her clemency and she has just gotten out of prison. this is one of her first post prison interviews. we will continue with her and learned what happened at her first trial and beyond and how a child gets sentenced as an adult. stay w with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. to cyntoiaing brown-long, who is a sex trafficking survivor, sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of firstst-degree murr for shooting her rapist as a
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teenager. she had been sexually trafficked and repeatedly abused and drugged. the shooting happened when cyntoia was 16 years old, but she was tried as an adult. cyntoia was granted clemency by former tennessee governor bill haslam in january. she was released from prison this past august. she is now 31 years old come out with her memoir "free cyntoia: my search for redemption in the american prison system." so let's take it to your arrest within 24 hours after you murdered the man who took you home. you were terrified by him. he was going to give you money for sex. you are a teenager. he is showing you his guns. you shoot him. you leave. the police get you. you have no lawyer. talk about what happened in your hearing. expand what a transfer hearing is. and then ultimately, what happened in your trial, how you
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ended up with life in prison. my arrest, i after was assigned a public defender. in that public defender was part of the juvenile court. it was her job to prepare my case for transfer hearing because the district attorney had actually asked the court to try me as an adult. what they do is come in number one, they find there is probable cause to plead that you committed the offense. the second part of the hearing is determining whether there are resources within the juvenile justice system that they can use to treat you because the goal of the juvenile justice system is supposed to be to remove detained criminality. their focus is supposed to be rehabilitating any individual who comes into the court. at the transfer hearing, i testified. i was still transferred. i was tried as an adult. they figured there was not enough time left within the juvenile court jurisdiction, which was three years, 2.5 years, for them to help me.
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so i go to the adult jail come to the county jail. i am in solitary confinement to be kept away from the adults. amy: foror how long? two years. from 16 until i was 18, i was in solitary confinement. amy: what is that like? what does it mean to be in solitary confinement? how large was your cell? who were you allowed to see? >> it was horrible it was horrible. theell is probably the size of your bathroom in your house. you don't get out much. you get out for an hour a day if they remember you where you can go outside to be locked in a kennel, which is pretty much a dog kennel, a cage, a fenced in cage. they will take you to the shower. it was really hard, especially with everything that i was dealing with.
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you had nothing to distract you. you're nothing but everything you were facing. all of the inside to come all of the thoughts, all of the trauma -- everything you're trying to deal with is there in that room with you. amy: this is before the trial? >> this is before the tririal. amy: you are a teenager, solitary confinement or two years. >> yes. for two years. because every juvenile at that time had to be in solitary confinement. that is just how they did. i mean, they did not have to be. there were juvenile facilities that could have housed them until they were 18, but that is just what they felt was more convenient for them. housing in solitary as a juvenile. spent all of that time stop just feeding you different medications. when you're telling them i am feeling this or experiencing this, they just find another pill. they just use you as a g guinea pig. amy: you are drugged through this time in a different way than when you were on the
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streets. >> absolutely. absolutely. the entire time. i finally make it to trial. i was convicted.d. i was convicted on all counts. amy: did you testify in your trial? >> i did not. i had wanted to testify, but my attorney said he was against it because they felt my earlier statement in juvenile court could have been used to impeach me because it was different from when i was telling the police that kut throat and nothing to do with it. i had just met him. they said by me having testify the way i did in the juvenile court, they could have used that to impeach me. come to find out later, they never could have used that to impeach me anyway because anything said as a juvenile transfer hearing cannot be used against you in later proceedings. my attorneys were mistaken. amy: a rather majojor mistake to have made. and also talk abouout how your viview of kut throat changed, hw you came to understand what sex
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trafficking was. >> my view of kut himself, that took time to change because whenever i was first incarcerated i was still thinking, like, this is my boyfriend. i know my attorney is telling me he is making statements against me to the police, but i don't believe him because he told me not to believe it. he told me ahead of time they would tell me these things. i was so loyal. he did not deserve it at all. but i was so loyal to him. it took for them to actually sit down with me, one of the women who worked in the juvenile court office, the defender's office, had told me, you know, you're facing lifeless up i'm like, what do you mean? i did not even know that was a possibility for me at the age of 16. my other attorney sat down with me and she took a piece of paper and she divided it into four sections. she was like, let's really think this through. she titled sections "things kut
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does to make me feel good" and does."ings kut amy: this is the man who held guns to you, who strangled you. >> yes. actually getting to see, that forced me to really rethink things. it is like, this isn't what i thought it was. they let me know, it is important for you to tell the court everything. you are facing serious charges here. you are facing life in prison. when i went to the juvenile court, i was like, i'm going to have to tell them everything and i did come at the transfer hearing. amy: but when it came to your trial, they said you could not speak. >> when he came to the trial, they advised me not to testify. i wanted to testify my family wanted me to testify, but they said it would not be in my best interest. they never got to hear my side of the story. amy: talk about the day you were
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convicted. describe where you were in court , what happened, and when you were sentenced to life in prison. convicted, this was, i believe it was the fifth day of trial. amy: you had never spoken. >> i had never spoken, just showing up every day listening. you are listening to everybody talk about the worst and you have ever done and paid you in the worst possible light. it is brutal. it is really brutal. you can't even speak up to her cell. you are depending on other people to speak up for you, but there is to be anyone that advocates for you the way you can. it is really difficult. trial,conclusion of the the jury goes for deliberation. ii sat in the holding cell for a while. amy: had they brought up your age in trial? >> they did. they brought up my age. my attorneys brought up the fact that i was with this man that was abusing me. they brought up the fact that there was actual
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photo evidence where this man was taking new pictures of me -- nude pictures of me. i remember when my attorney took a picture, it was folded up. how miserable i was can help like i was coming showed it to the jury. the district attorney. amy: they showed a nude picture of you? they attorney did not show full picture. it was folded. the da unfolded the picture was like, this is the rest of the picture. i was like, what was that about? my attorney was shocked. that is just one moment that indicates how it was just one that iault on everything felt about myself. it made me feel horrible. it may me feel like a horrible human being. it may me feel like this is my fault, like what happened with me with kut.
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i did not ask for him to do those things to me but i was made to feel i did ask for. amy: so you are in a holding area and then you are brought in for the verdict. >> so i am in the holding area and they tell me that because it was taking so long, it was getting so late, they actually thought deliberations would pick up that monday. some thinking, ok, this is good. because they say the longer they deliberate, the better it is. surely, i will get 15 years for second-degree murder, worst case scenario. certainly i won't be guilty of first-degree. it is not what happened. you keep thinking, i know what happened, it is not would happen. surely, they will not find that. my mother had left because they told her they won't come back with their verdict today. so my mother had left and i am there by myself with my attorneys. they say, oh, they came up with a verdict. i'm like, they did? we go up there and they bring
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the jury and. i'm just looking at them, just desperate to get any kind of indication of what happened. i remember there was one man come a black man, and during jury questioning, they had asked him if he had any experience with the justice system. he kind of did things that would make him camino, biased. he said he had a nephew that was involved in the system. i'm thinking, ok, he is going to fight for me because he understands. but whenever he came in, he looked at me and he just hung his head and shook his head. and i was like, that is not good. so i kind of knew then. i looked at every single one of their faces and they would not look at me. i was like, this is not good. whenever they read the verdict, it was like, like you could just feel it just stabbed you in the heart, each word. it was rough.
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then right after that, the judge says, it is an automatic life sentence. like, whatck there, just happened? amy: so it is automatic life sentence. you were sentenced that day to life in prison. >> life in prison. in the state of tennessee come anytime you're convicted of first-degree murder, it is automatic i've sentence. it does not matter if you are a juvenile. no consideration is given to any mitigating factors. there is absolutely no way around that. it is automatic life sentence. mandatory. amy: so let's talk about what happened to you in prison stuff you are in an adult prison. you are 16 years old. you face life in prison. you have to serve over half a century of that. your feelings of, i guess you could say redemption.
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the subtitle of your book is "my search for redemption in the american prison system." talk about the educational system in the prison and who you came to meet. >> semi entire life i can remember always feeling like i was runaway. like i was not worth salvaging. of course, the entire port process just reinforced that belief. naturally, the way i felt about myself, i was at an all-time low. there was a program, a volunteer program from a local university, lipscomb university in nashville, that had come and they offered college courses free of charge for people housed in tennessee prison for women. it took some time, took some work, and i finally got into the program. once i get into this program, i wow, i canking, w
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actually do these things, i am smart. you start thinking, these people are listening to me and i think i am smart and they don't think i am some dumb girl who made these dumb choices. they don't even look at the worst i've done. they don't even acknowledge that. they worry about who i am now. they see me for me. i can't tell you how redeeming that is. want to do better. it made me want to live. it made me want to strive. it was an incredible experience. it really set me on a path. did not take me all the way there. i would not come all the way to feeling i am fully walking my redemption into light developed a relationship with jesus. i talk all about that in the book. what an important part that played in my life and in my
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freedom. amy: you also talk about a mentor you had when you were in prison. how did you meet her? >> are you talking about mrs. see brooks? >> i met her when i was trying to get into the lipscomb program. is retired now, e wah the prinf education department. she had given me a chance and she really worked with me because there were so many people trying to get into the program but she had seen from placement testing that i had potential. even though i was on closed security, which is the higher sick designation, because i had gotten in trouble, she worked with me. she gave me the chance to interview, to take the test, and then the day i got off of closed security, she allowed me to into the program. amy: and when you learned what happened to kut in prison, what happened to him? >> i actually learned pride in
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my trial, eight months after i was incarcerated at the end of march 2005, he was told by another man in a parking lot. amy: did that change your view of having to defend him? >> no. before he had died, i had already come forward with everything with the truth. i had told them at the transfer hearing -- which was in november 2004 -- it did not change anything, even though the detectives had found that information out they still did not follow up on anything. but i thought i had come to a point where i was over it, i understood things, but i remember when i found out he died, he brought up those old feelings. i was devastated. i remember screaming when i found out. school andou went to you started to really talk and
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think through things, you started to come to understand the situation you were in, the whole idea of sex trafficking. you had appealed your sentence and you had appealed -- entered an appeal in your case. talk about when it was denied, where you were, and why it is you never gave up hope. >> i actually lost not just one appeal, but three appeals. my direct appeal was denied around 2009. then i found a postconviction appeal. that was denied as well. a federalppeal was habeas corpus. and that was denied and it was said i could not even appeal that. so you keep trying and you keep hoping that some court is going to give me some kind of leniency. they're going to show me some kind of compmpassion. they're going to see all of these things. amy: we have to go to break.
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when we come back, i want to ask about the remarkable story of your professor at lipscomb who was the assistant attorney general. you did not realize at the time. who had denied your appeal in the conversation you had. we will be back in a minute with cyntoia brown-long, sex trafficking survivor who just got out of prison. hearst -- she was ready clumsy by the former tennessee governor . she then sentenced to life in prison and 16. ay with us. ♪ [sic break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are spending the hour with cyntoia brown-long, a sex trafficking survivor sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16. it would -- she would be granted
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clemency last january by the former tennessee governor. cyntoia, you are in prison. your appeal is denied, but you're going to school, lipscomb university within the prison, a program that absolutely saved your life. >> it did not save my life. it helped. " when you realize your professor at lipscomb was the assistant attorney general who denied your first appeal? >> so it was at the end of the semester. my appeal had actually came down. it was denied. that was on a thursday that i got my appeal and the wednesday night before that, i had class with him and he was acting really weird, really concerned and asking if i was ok. i said, yeah. i did not know why he was asking me that. the next day i got my appeal, denied. did not really look through it that day. i went to lipscomb function that night for the literary journal looking for him for help with
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the appeal because i had not read it to even see that -- he did not show up that night. he was not there. the next day when i went to the law, my friend erica east had stop, slowo really down, read it and figure out where to go from here. the first few lines, they list the parties involved in the appeal. list me, my attorney stands, then netlists the prosecutors. name.was preston's is,as like, what? the thing you see your da at trial but when it comes to the appellate court, that is an entirely different office. you never see them because you don't actually go to the appellate court to attend those hearings. i would not have recognized him because i had never seen him. for him, he did not recognize it, either. it is very hard to remember a name in a case.
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i think that is a big problem with the system now. we're just reduced to case numbers and names on a file. he did not realize it either, but whenever he put it together, he was devastated. he felt trouble. amy: so you talk with him about your case. he is the one who denied the appeal. >> the judge denied the appeal but he fought for that. amy: what did he say he understood and speaking to you that he did not understood when he looked at your case? >> he told me how he did not understand everything else that had happened. he did not know anything about kut. he did not know anything -- anything surrounding just that one moment. asspoke to me about how him a prosecutor, how he thought that was an issue. as a prosecutor, you are just given certain facts and you stand on those facts come youu don't listen to anything else. amy: you were granted clemency by the former texas governor but it did not happen out of the blue. talk about the campaign that
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went viral for your release. the title of your book is "free cyntoia." >> the former tennessee governor bill haslam great me clemency january 2019. i believe filing -- it was december 20 17 -- for clemency. we have been working with his office. we have been working with some other strategist to prepare clemency prior to that. a few weeks before we were going to file, a news story had run about me running for clemency, me filing for clemency. an overnight, it blew up. it spread like wildfire. really nothing short of a miracle from god, the way so many people around the world were just rallying for me to be
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freed. freed. it took a year and one month from the time i filed the petition for governor haslam to grant me clemency on the basis of all the changes i had made, the work i had done with lipscomb. amy: so superstar rihihanna wroe "something is horribly wrong in the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life." what did that mean to you? >> i mean, that validates everything that i know. there is something wrong when you throw away anybody, when you see people as disposable, when you don't see this person is just as capable of being redeemed as anyone else. amy: i want to turn to the statement by then governor of tennessee bill haslam who granted you clemency. he said -- up with a life sentence of a without parole until
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your 60's was too harsh, especially in the light of the extraordinary steps ms. brown has taken to rebuild her life. transformation should be accompanied by hope." did you get to me governor haslam? >> i did. and he is an incredible man, such a strong man of god, very humble, very kind, very intelligent. amy: cyntoia come you got married in prison. talk about what happened. how did you meet him? >> when i tell you god brought me the perfect man. even the way we met, which i detail it further in the book. the way we met is full of god. you can see his hand all and it will step it will be three years in january. from the time we met. we started communicating and comebe married in a year january. amy: he wrote you a letter in prison? clubs we started writing back and forth, started spending hours on the phone. he would visit me in prison.
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was really there for me. was the person that helped me get through some of those really hard moments. was there. he is my best friend. i love him. amy: and he is standing outside this door right now. >> he is with me wherever i go. amy: as we just have a minute to go, the other cyntoias out there. of course, you are unique. what you left behind and the people you left behind and what you're doing now about them. -- when everyone was speaking up for me, it gave me hope that, ok, we are seen. someone sees us. you always feel that your voice does not matter, which that should not be how it is. and their voice, their situation, their lives are just as valuable as mine. i feel that god has given me this opportunity to really use this platform in a way that
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sheds light on them as well. like, there are 70 other people like me. there are so many women, so many men who are facing this. amy: i saw you nodding your head as i was headlines about rikers being shut down. and those who were saying it is not about other jails being built, the money has to go into education from go into programs for people who are imprisoned, particularly youth. >> it is unfortunate that the first response is to just lock people up and throw them away when if you really just take the time to invest in people -- people are not disposable. we are all capable of redemption. we are all capable of being helped and being our better selves. everyone deserves a second chance. amy: on that note, thank you so much for being with us. cyntoia brown-long, sex trafficking survivor, sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder for shooting her rapist as a teenager.
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years long campaign helped her to win her freedom. she was granted clemency in january, released in august. her memoir "free cyntoia: my search for redemption in the american prison system" was published this week. that does it for our show. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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