Dear Supporters of Kelly Savage,
We are absolutely thrilled to share that Kelly Savage was released from prison last week!!! Governor Jerry Brown commuted Kelly’s Life Without Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentence in December 2017, making her eligible for parole. Kelly was then granted parole in July 2018 and released on November 5, 2018.
As many of you know, it is extraordinarily difficult for someone with an LWOP sentence to challenge their sentence in the courts or have their sentence commuted. Critically, in his last months in office, Governor Brown has increased the rate of commutations and pardons, giving dozens of people sentenced to die in prison a chance at freedom.
Kelly’s release is, in large part, due to your grassroots support. In his statement on commuting Kelly’s sentence, Governor Brown referenced the thousands of people who signed Kelly’s petitions, demonstrating strong community support for her release. For this, we send you a heartfelt thank you. We also greatly appreciate the organizations that were critical to securing this amazing and unlikely victory. During her 23 years of incarceration, Free Battered Women, the California Habeas Project, Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), and Survived & Punished, all contributed to the grassroots organizing and legal advocacy that made Kelly’s release possible. Kelly’s extraordinary courage, strength of spirit, and dedication to serving her community were central to her fight for freedom.
Kelly’s case exemplifies a terrifying pattern of the criminalization of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The vast majority of people in women’s prisons are survivors. Many were targeted by police and prosecutors for surviving conditions of violence. Criminalizing survivors who are mothers for violence enacted by their batterers, which was the case for Kelly, is particularly destructive. We cannot end domestic violence in our communities without addressing the ways that the criminal punishment system is a central organizer of gender violence.
Kelly’s release marks an important milestone for Survived & Punished. Along with the release of Marissa Alexander and Nan-Hui Jo, Kelly’s freedom completes all three defense campaigns that originally brought S&P organizers together in 2016. Community organizing has been key in supporting the freedom of many criminalized survivors of violence like Kelly. In solidarity, we urge you to visit #FreeThemCA to sign petitions to support the freedom of more survivors. We also ask that you join us in supporting CCWP’s #DropLWOP campaign to end life without parole sentencing in California.
Finally, please join Kelly’s family and friends by contributing to a fundraiser to help get her on her feet now that she is released: bit.ly/FundKelly
Once again, thank you very much for your signatures, supportive messages, and for raising awareness about Kelly’s case. You have made all the difference.
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Survived & Punished
Photo above: Kelly Savage & Colby Lenz the day Kelly was released from prison, November 5, 2018.