S&P California member, Ny Nourn, recently gave this TED talk describing her experiences with immigration to the U.S. as a Cambodian refugee, surviving domestic violence, being convicted for the actions of her batterer and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, being commuted and then incarcerated by ICE, and the relentless organizing to win her freedom after 16 years of prison. Video & TEDx summary below:
A story of immigration, domestic violence, jail, deportation, and redemption. As a teenager, Ny Nourn became trapped in an abusive relationship with a much older man. Weeks after Ny turned 18, her boyfriend killed the boss at her after-school job in a fit of jealousy. The murder went unsolved for three years until Ny went to the police. After providing a confession, Ny was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting murder. A judge sentenced Ny to life without the possibility of parole. Like Ny, upwards of 90% of incarcerated women experience domestic violence or sexual assault before their incarceration. After years of advocacy in prison, Ny finally won parole from the governor. On her release date, however, immigration officers arrested her as she left prison. Ny had been born in a refugee camp in Thailand after her mother fled genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Although Ny was a permanent resident, her conviction made her an “aggravated felon” subject to mandatory deportation. In November 2017, after an outpouring of community support, Ny walked out of jail as a free person for the first time in over 16 years. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
Read the 2017 open letter from Ny that she sent to her supporters while incarcerated by ICE and excerpts of letters written back to her.