Starz developed The Case of Cyntoia Brown, a limited drama series inspired by the story of Cyntoia Brown-Long, who served 15 years in prison for killing a man when he was 16. The project, based on Brown-Long’s book, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System, comes from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Power, Black Mafia Family) and La La Anthony (Power, The Chi), who will be executive producer and writer Santa Sierra (Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Vida). Brown-Long and her husband Jamie Long will be consultants on the project.
Anthony is a longtime supporter of Brown-Long and brought the project to the banner of Jackson’s G-Unit Film & Television, Inc., which is developing the series under G-Unit’s general agreement with Starz.
Written by Sierra, the series tells the story of Cyntoia Brown-Long who was sexually trafficked by a boyfriend, tried as an adult at the age of 16 and sentenced to life in prison for qualified theft and first-degree murder. Despite being a minor, the sentence required her to be at least 51 years old before she was considered eligible for parole, which would not make her eligible for parole until she was 67.
Sierra will act as an executive co-producer.
“We are honored to receive the story of Cyntoia, which illuminates the injustice of a system that judged and condemned a minor at risk when she herself was a victim of sex trafficking,” said Christina Davis, president of Original Programming for Starz. “This limited series by Curtis, La La and Santa chronicles Cyntoia’s long journey towards freedom and promotes our #TakeTheLead programming mandate centered on narratives by, about and for underrepresented women and audiences.”
For years, Brown-Long claimed that the 2004 murder was an act of self-defense. Over the years, the struggle for his release has brought prominent lawyers in his defense and support of celebrities, as well as Anthony, including LeBron James, Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna. While incarcerated, Brown-Long earned her associates and bachelor’s degrees while also mentoring at-risk youth.
She received clemency and was released in 2019 and now defends the reform of criminal justice and victims of trafficking. His case also inspired the introduction of state legislation designed to protect minors who are victims of sex trafficking. Since his conviction, Tennessee’s juvenile conviction guidelines have changed: children under 18 now cannot be tried for prostitution. If she were arrested today, Brown-Long would be treated as a child victim of human trafficking.
The project is part of the #TakeTheLead initiative recently launched by Starz, the company’s comprehensive effort to deepen its existing commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.