This press release is from Sinister Wisdom Contributor, Cathy Marston:
On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, a coalition of San Antonio groups and activists, including Free Battered Texas Women, will have a 5 p.m. press conference and 6:30 p.m. protest at the Bexar County Courthouse in solidarity with nationwide efforts to support pardoning African-American, battering-survivor Marissa Alexander, M.B.A.
Alexander’s ex-husband violated a protective order to break into her house and trapped, strangled, and beat her. She was weak from having giving birth 9 days before, yet escaped into the garage, where her door opener failed. She grabbed her gun, which she had a concealed-carry permit for, and went back in to fire a warning shot into the ceiling.
The police inexplicably arrested Alexander instead of her batterer; and she was convicted on a charge of aggravated assault, even though the shot did not hit him. She was sentenced to 20 years.
Alexander's conviction was overturned in 2013. At that time, her prosecutor, Angela Corey, vowed to retry Alexander and get her sentenced to three, consecutive sentences for 60 years! Despite national outrage, Corey was not stopped. The federal government did not step in. In November 2014, Alexander pled out to three, trumped-up felony charges; and the judge sentenced her to three years in prison. As Alexander had already served 1,030 days on the first case, she will be released 1/27/15. Alexander is being denied the protection of the very “Stand Your Ground” laws that the notorious George Zimmerman used to successful acquit himself in his shooting death of black, male, teenager Trayvon Martin.
The fact that Alexander is being denied her right to self-defense reveals the interlock of sexism and racism in our criminal justice system. Canadian feminist criminologist Laureen Snider and American, feminist criminologist Meda Chesney-Lind look at data from the 1983-2003 timeframe and find the total number of incarcerated males increased 303 percent from 1980-99, it increased 576 percent for females. They also find that between 1986 and 1991, African-American women’s incarceration rates for drug offences rose by 828 percent, that of Hispanic women by 328 percent, that of white women by 241 percent.
Texas police uniquely arrest battered women instead of their male batterers at least 20 percent of the time on a domestic-violence call, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. TCFV adds that this misogynist atrocity only happens 20 percent of the time in other states. This is partly due to bias in interpreting our state’s self-defense waiver, which is codified in TEXAS PENAL CODE, SUBCHAPTER C, SECT. 9.31.
While California has recently passed a “Sin by Silence” bill and New York is readying to pass a “Domestic Violence Justice Act,” Texas has not had legislation on this issue since 1991. The 72nd Legislature passed Senate Combined Resolution 26, which mandated that the Board of Pardons and Paroles review women’s cases on first-degree felonies related to domestic violence for pardons. The women recommended for pardons by TCFV were denied them by the BPP; and this lonely provision has been forgotten.
Since Free Battered Texas Women began keeping statistics in 2005, women convicted of domestic-violence-related felonies report: 74% defended themselves; 16 % defended a third party (child or grandchild); and 10% did both.
This is a public-safety emergency! Remember SELF-DEFENSE IS A RIGHT! BATTERING IS A CRIME!
Cathy Marston, PhD
Director, Free Battered Texas Women
P.O. Box 47
Schertz, TX 78154
Attachment: FBTW Fact Sheet
Note to Editors: This release was prepared with information from the following sources:
Frumlin, Aliyah. (2014). Melissa Alexander accepts plea deal. Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/marissa-alexander-accepts-plea-deal. Nov. 24.
Law, Victoria. (2013). Trapped in the dark: Marissa Alexander and how our twisted legal system re-victimizes domestic-violence survivors. Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/2014/05/16/trapped_in_the_dark_marissa_alexander_an....
Marston, Cathy. (2014a). Defending our right to self-defense to counter the normalization of violence. La Voz de Esperanza, 27(8), 3-4, 6.
(2014b). Domestic violence awareness – Newsworthy or not? La Voz de Esperanza, 27(10), 7.
(2014c). Texas Families for Justice rally. La Voz de Esperanza, 27(10), 12.
(2011). Stopping the real ‘cycle of violence’: Patriarchal battering and the criminalization of women by American police. Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, 20(1), 72-78, 82-83.
(2010). Stopping Texas’s war on women. La Voz de Esperanza, 23(1), 7-9.
Slater, Anne. (2012). Growing campaign to free abuse survivor Marissa Alexander turns outrage into action. Freedom Socialist, 35(1), 6.
Snider, Laureen. (2003). Constituting the punishable woman: Atavistic man incarcerates postmodern woman. British Journal of Criminology, 43(2), 354-378.
Torres, Annaliza. (2014). Marissa Alexander out of jail but not free. Freedom Socialist, 35(1), 6.