Melissa Jeltsen @ Huffington Post. Excerpt below:
Ericka Persson, an advocate with Survived and Punished, called [Governor Andrew Cuomo’s clemency] guidelines “ambiguous and arbitrary” and said they could be changed.
“Cuomo has the power to free these criminalized survivors of gendered violence right now, and that is what we are urging him to do,” she said.
While data is scant on how often domestic violence survivors are incarcerated for crimes directly related to their abuse, advocates said it is a common occurrence. One study by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision found that 67 percent of women sent to prison in 2005 for killing someone close to them were abused by that person.
Nationally, women in prison have high rates of victimization from gender-based violence. More than half the women in state prisons and local jails report having been physically or sexually abused.
Over the past few years, organizers with Survived and Punished have been pivotal in bringing national attention to cases in which women or girls were prosecuted for acts taken to protect themselves. They advocated in support of Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot near her estranged husband, and Bresha Meadows, a 14-year-old girl who was charged with murder for shooting her abusive father in the head.
Despite some media attention on high-profile cases, advocates say incarcerated women are still waiting for their Me Too moment.
In an interview with HuffPost, Smalls-Williams [daughter of Jacqueline Smalls, who is currently incarcerated for self defense] said she is struggling to make decisions about the future while her mother is still incarcerated. She doesn’t want to have kids if her mother won’t be around to be a grandmother to them, for example.
“I feel like I have to put my life on hold because of things I want her to experience with me,” Smalls-Williams said.
Image above from Melissa Jeltsen: Nikki Smalls-Williams told her mother’s story at a #FreeThemNY event calling for clemency for imprisoned battered women.