As we enter the holiday season, 13-year-old Nevaeh Savannah Lemons sent a heartfelt letter to Governor Gavin Newsom describing the impact of the 9-year absence of her mother, Tomiekia Johnson. Tomiekia has been incarcerated since 2012 after defending herself from domestic violence. Tomiekia’s sentence is 50 years to Life. Survived & Punished also strongly urges Governor Newsom to grant Tomiekia clemency in time to be united with her daughter and family for the holidays. Nevaeh’s letter and photos are below:
November 24, 2020
Dear Governor Newsom,
My name is Nevaeh Savannah Lemons.
I am a teenager who is 13 years old. It might be odd for you to hear this from a child. You might not know but I am a fighter and I am someone who gets the job done. I am writing to give you a good thought in mind about my mother, Tomeikia Johnson, who was a victim of Domestic Violence and who is behind bars for something she didn’t mean to do and because she was protecting herself. Most of my life has been a roller coaster. The pain and suffering I have been going through since I was 4 years old. The life of a child growing up not being with her mother, and not having a father. It is something we shouldn’t have in life. My life is like a living hell because of this, and to know my mother was beaten by my father hurts even worse.
I think about what if my mom was killed and I would have to live with my father. Would he be abusive to me? Would he do the same stuff that he did to my own mother? There are days that I wish I could go back in time and stop my father from harming her. Or if I was like an angel and told her to get her stuff and leave with me, and somehow it worked. The things I’ve heard from articles and the news don’t explain all the facts. They leave out details to make it look one-sided. Most of the internet is biased and is not open to judgment about the victim. I didn’t know what life was like before but now I do. I see the world as this one judging place where we as people have to live based on what other people hear. Nobody takes the time to listen to the person, like my mom, who lived through the violence.
My life is like a trauma. I had social services come to my house and pull me out of school. They played board games with me and asked me questions. I felt like I was surrounded by people that wanted me to turn against my mother on their behalf. I didn’t want to go for it even when I was very little. I went up to the children’s courtroom and to this day I can remember how it looks and how it feels to go up there every time. No one in my life told me what was going on because I was too young. I had no shame in telling anyone that my mother was in prison and how she got there. People feel bad for me, but I never feel bad about myself. I feel that this life wasn’t a choice of my own, it just shows that nobody’s alike and nobody can have the same life. I am special and my mother is special for having me. She is my everything. My whole life is all about her. People act like they care about her but deep down they don’t have a care in the world or a real feeling in their soul about her. I know that my family and I are the ones that have been there for her through thick and thin. But, I come across two sides of a family. My mother’s parents and my father’s parents. I am shared by both of them. I feel like I can be passed around sometimes and I just sit there and think about how one side of the same family hates her and I go over and act okay about it. But I am never okay with it.
If you didn’t know, my mother was a basketball player and a bowler. She was very talented in both and she has gained great knowledge from those sports and has a great intelligent mindset about her life. She was and still is a very bright person. As much work as she did outside of prison is the same amount of hard work she puts in behind bars.
The dishonesty I have been surrounded by is not something that I like. That’s why I go to church and pray to the Lord. Most of what has happened in my life is because I don’t have my mother home with me singing songs, going places, or to talk to about my first boyfriend. Everything that we talk about is over the phone. She sends me cards and letters telling me how much she loves me. And telling me to leave a special spot for her on Christmas when she comes home. It’s always there but she is never home to fill the spot. She was never here to see my Halloween outfits and wasn’t here when I turned 13. She isn’t here for my first teenage years when I am about to go to high school. I wanted her home for these years. I wanted her sitting right there next to me and telling me how much she loves me for no reason. To give me the love that I have been wanting for 9 years. I used to cry myself to sleep because she was never home for me to crawl up in her bed at night and just hug her. I don’t know what it feels like to have my mom be right there next to me. To hold me down when I need it. To give me that pep talk before I go on the basketball court and win games. Nobody is there to tell me they love me just so they can see a smile on my face.
I dearly ask of you, Governor Newsom, to support her clemency so she can have her freedom back, and so she can come home and I can know what having a mother right next to me feels like. So she can have her daughter next to her, so she can laugh and cry with me. I just want to know, if your mother was hours away when you were a kid, wouldn’t you miss her? I believe people can do the right thing. So, I believe you can sign the paperwork and let her come back to me and the world that she knows and loves very much. I am her only daughter and I have been waiting for 9 years since I was 4 years old. I am also a victim in this case and I hope that my voice and my life matters. Please give her clemency so she can get a job and a life to start with me and to grow again as a person outside of prison.
Nevaeh Savannah Lemons
Tomiekia is incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in crowded living conditions that include multiple people occupying one cell, making social distancing impossible and escalating her risk of COVID-19 infection. Tomiekia’s family is prepared to warmly welcome Tomiekia home, including creating 14-day quarantine conditions for Tomiekia to secure everyone’s safety. We urge Governor Newsom to support the release of all incarcerated domestic violence victims, like Tomiekia, and to reunite Tomiekia with her daughter, Nevaeh, this holiday season.
To learn more about Tomiekia’s case, please visit and circulate her petition and interview.
Thank you for putting up my letter.
You deserve to.be heard niece. I love you and always here for you
GOD BLESS YOUNG LADY !!!!🙏 I READ YOUR LETTER AND I HOPE I HELP HER AND you ANYWAY I CAN HELP !!! I will PRAY 🙏 TO LORD JESUS to FREE YOUR MOTHER!!! I UNDERSTAND SOME OF YOUR PAIN FOR I am A CHILD OF DOMESTIC ABUSE MY SELF AND HURTS TO SEE YOUR MOTHER LOCKED UP FOR THIS!!! STAY STRONG 💪 AND WE WILL GET HER HELP TO GET OUT 👍 IN JESUS NAME AMEN!!!!!
God bless you little one God is good you’ll see your mom soon I feel it
Governor Newsom please hear my nieces plea for her moms freedom. They both have suffered enough without one another and only you can bring them back together. Domestic violence survivors shouldn’t be punished for fighting for their lives nor an accident that happened. God is in full control and we pray he touches you to do the right thing. #freemeka
I too feel your pain little cousin. I was in 5th grade when this tragic event happened and 7th grade when my aunt was sent away to rot in jail now I am a college graduate. Many years have went by with a void in this family holidays, birthdays and special events aren’t the same when you know the ones closest to you are not there. They say pressure creates precious jewels and that’s what you are Nevaeh I was there the day you were born and to be only 13 you have the strength that many would never posses. As I watch you grow it makes me proud to know how you deal with the circumstances and strive in many ways most would have given up on. To my auntie before you were sent away the world knew that you were a fearless person and a go-getter, whether results go in your way or not you rode and continue to ride the storms of life. Governor Newsome I’m asking you to reunite my cousin and my aunt give them a chance to foster a normal relationship one that’s not confined to few hour visits and phone calls. Every child deserves their parents.
Such kind and true words. She loves us all her true supporters
Always like to Tamika she was she was younger than me but I liked her but she never knew that and I just want to see her get her freedom so she can do the rest of her life
I’m so proud of you!!! You are a strong and intelligent young women, just like your mother. Continue to fight for your mom freedom! She deserves it, and you deserve to grow up with her out here. Im praying that Governor Newsome will have the heart to set your mother free. She was a victim of domestic violence and now she’s a victim of the system! #FREETOMEIKIA
Speak the truth. Thank you for my dear friend much love for you and your husband
“If your mom was hours away as a kid would you miss her” ,let her walk everyone deserves a second chance #justice #clemency
Speak the truth
Let her walk some people really deserves a second chance #freedom #meka #clemency
Reading this letter im in tears I never talk to my niece about any of this because to me she is still my little baby and i dont want to talk about it with her please read and hear her cry for help. I love you and keep doing the work someone is going to help us bring her home
You will be surprised of her thoughts and feelings about everything. She knows the truth and Tomiekia and I dont hold back on what she wants to know. Even if the truth hurts she deserves to know. She feels bad because I do all I can for her mom and she knows we will get her freed with her true supporters.
This was an awesome letter from an awesome girl who clearly loves and supports her mother. People will always judge those who have been or are in a violent relationship by saying, “Why didn’t you just leave “. But those of us who have been through it know, it’s not that easy! I wish this family all the best and prayers for the best homecoming.
So true a lot of people blame the victim. Thank you for your kind words. God bless you
Reading this brought me to tears, I keep your family in my prayers and hope you will be reunited with your mom real soon I watched her grow up and know the type of person she is, I’m sorry this happened to you.
Thank you so much we appreciate your prayers and the love for our family. God bless you
This breaks my heart!
Thank you for taking a moment to read the letter
When I was a kid, I was taught that “self defense” is a valid defense. You didn’t ask for the fight. If you’re attacked and fighting for your life and the life of your little daughter, it shouldn’t suddenly become criminal because you “defended too well.”
What was the outcome?
We are still calling for Gov. Newsom to commute Tomiekia’s sentence. Day of Action on Wed, Sep 22:
I just heard about Tomiekia’s plight today via a message on Pushblack. Would it still help to write to Governor Newssom?
I am a Head Start family advocate in Fairbanks Alaska and a survivor of domestic violence. I was blessed to be able to leave my ex-husband by moving to Alaska from Buffalo New York 46 years ago. Many women do not have that luxury.
In my position as a family advocate for the past 13 years I’ve encountered many women including coworkers, and a few men that were in DV relationships. I have seen women murdered by their partners, including two of my coworkers. In most cases, the women had separated from their abusers and were stalked when they attempted to move on with their lives The trauma and devastation of losing their mothers to murder will haunt these children throughout their lives. Domestic violence victims should have a right to defend themselves without punishment.
I am praying that Governor Newssom will exercise Mercy and grant clemency to Tomiekia so that she can be reunited with her daughter and family and help DV victims on the outside to get away from their perpetrators.
Like Dorothy Harris above I also came here through PushBlack. PLEASE tell me, at this late date, 9/29/2021, if there is anything I and others can do to get Tomiekia back home with her daughter Nevaeh. Tomiekia’s arrest, trial and conviction was a true miscarriage of justice!!!