The Defense Committee to Free Maddesyn George released a statement on Maddesyn’s recent sentence. Excerpt below.
November 22, 2021
Defense Committee Statement on Sentencing
In Spokane, Washington, on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, Colville tribal member Maddesyn George was sentenced in federal court to serve 6.5 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and drug possession with intent to distribute. Maddesyn is a sexual violence survivor who defended herself in July 2020 against a white man named Kristopher Paul Graber who raped and threatened her. The prosecutors in the case, stunning in their commitment to punish Maddesyn for her survival actions, argued that she be sentenced to 17 years behind bars. While Maddesyn and her mother and father, siblings, aunts, and cousins are incredibly relieved that the prosecutors failed in their efforts to secure a longer sentence, her family and defense committee strongly maintain that the prosecution was unjust from beginning to end.
The grassroots Campaign to Free Maddesyn George undeniably made a difference in the outcome of the sentencing hearing, and we thank everyone who signed the drop-the-charges petition, provided organizational endorsements, and wrote letters to Maddesyn.
Maddesyn accepted a plea deal in July 2021, after spending a year in jail and separated from her infant daughter, and in the face of a murder charge and the unknowns of a jury trial. Over the last four months, we fought for the charges to be dropped before her scheduled sentencing hearing, but the US Attorney’s Office remained committed to punishing a Native survivor for defending herself.
While the Biden Administration and Department of Justice have pledged more resources to addressing the [Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW)] crisis, they must also take steps to address the intersecting crisis of the abuse-to-prison pipeline that has entrapped Maddesyn and many other colonized and racialized survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The DOJ that has promised action to end the MMIW crisis and the DOJ that criminalizes Indigenous survivors who act in self-defense are one and the same, and the contradiction in policy becomes clear in a case like Maddesyn’s. Incarceration is a tool of Indigenous removal, and Maddesyn is now missing from her community.
We will continue to follow Maddesyn’s lead and support and organize with her and her family. And we will continue to collectively resist the cruelty of the colonial legal system and its ceaseless efforts to wrest our loved ones from us.