TN Governor Considers High-Profile Pardons

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will issue some pardons before he leaves office. The term-limited Haslam has not decided whether he’ll grant clemency in the highly publicized case of Cyntoia Brown, or if he’ll stop an upcoming execution, The Tennessean reports. “We haven’t done any (pardons) so far. We will definitely do some in the next six months. I don’t think you’ll see a flood but I don’t think it’ll be two or three either,” said Haslam.

Brown is serving a life sentence for a 2004 murder committed when she was 16. Advocates say she was a victim of sex trafficking and killed Johnny Allen because she thought her life was in danger. The case has received national attention, with celebrities including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West calling for Brown’s release. The six-member Tennessee Board of Parole is split. Two members suggested clemency for Brown, two thought the governor should deny her request and two others thought the governor should reduce her sentence in a way that would require her to spend at least another 11 years in prison. Haslam is reviewing a request from Billy Ray Irick, who is slated to be put to death next month. Irick, 59, who was convicted of the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl, is scheduled to die Aug. 9. It would be the state’s first execution since 2009. Irick and other death row offenders are challenging the constitutionality of the state’s proposed lethal injection method. Advocates also note Irick’s long-documented history with mental illness as a reason he should not be executed.