Beyond Cyntoia Brown- Criminalized Survivors
September 1, 2019 8:02 AM   Subscribe

These women survived abuse and assault. Now they’re behind bars. Should they be? The case of Cyntoia Brown has sparked a national reassessment of the ways the criminal justice system deals with survivors of abuse...Female, trans, and gender-nonconforming survivors of gender violence who have harmed or killed their abusers are often swept into the penal system with their history of abuse largely ignored. There is no agency that collects official data on the number of survivors incarcerated for defending themselves and no national statistics that track the rate of this criminalization. But according to a 2016 study published by the Vera Institute of Justice, 86 percent of women in jail are survivors of sexual violence, and 77 percent are survivors of intimate partner violence.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (4 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
When I was growing up in West Virginia in the 1980s, my mother's hairdresser murdered her husband. Her defense was that "he needed killing." She was sentenced to a year's probation, kept working, and kept all of her beauty salon clients.

I thought that this story was hilarious until about a year ago, when #metoo prompted me to wonder what circumstances might actually lead a court to accept such a defense.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:44 AM on September 1, 2019 [9 favorites]

fantabulous timewaster, I'm in WV. Maybe the prosecutor and the judge's wife were among her clients. Everything here is on the old boy network.

This story confirms my guesses about women claiming "Stand Your Ground" in domestic violence cases. A man can shoot another man and claim he was in fear of his life but if a woman shoots her abuser she couldn't have been that scared. Otherwise she would have left him!

In other news, I never knew Lorena Bobbitt was from Ecuador.
posted by irisclara at 12:16 PM on September 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Usually interesting to look at the evidence in cases like this to understand why people may have been prosecuted.

"her husband [D'Aloisio] pushed her against a wall, struck her in ribs and pulled her hair. Officers ... reported that her face was bruised and swollen and her lower lip bloodied"
"Birru went to the bedroom and grabbed her husband’s handgun... she removed all the bullets from the gun, or so she thought, went to the living room to confront him and then pulled the trigger “so it would make a sound to say, ‘Pay attention.’”
"However, the gun still had a bullet in the chamber and it fired, striking D’Aliosio in the back"

"Brown stated that Allen had intimidated her by repeatedly standing over her while she lay in his bed. As further motivation for the act of self defense, she stated that she believed Allen was reaching for a firearm as the two lay in bed. Thus prompting her to shoot Allen with her own firearm, which she got from her boyfriend for her own protection.[18][13][9]"
"Police noted that no gun was found under or near the bed.[9] Based on the position in which Allen's body was discovered, investigators believed that Allen may have been asleep when he was shot. Forensics noted that, postmortem, Allen was laying with his hands underneath his head.[18][9]"

"police found Christopher Grover, he was lying on his sofa. One arm was resting on his torso, the other at his side. His feet were stretched in front of him, his head propped up on some pillows ... There was a gunshot wound in his temple."
"Newman [medical examiner] described Grover's wound as a 'hard contact wound,' caused by the muzzle of the gun being held tightly against his skin."

"According to Alexander, she tried to escape through the garage, but the garage door would not open.[3] This account was confirmed by Gray in a sworn deposition,[4] although investigators found no problem with the door."
"According to all accounts, Alexander then retrieved her gun from her vehicle and went to the kitchen. Alexander fired a "warning shot" towards Gray with his children nearby, which hit the wall near Gray at the height of his head, then deflected into the ceiling.[6][7]"
posted by zentrification at 5:23 AM on September 2, 2019

I'm curious zentrification if you could elaborate as to the purpose of your comment, because it seems to be in support of criminalizing survivors as opposed to de-criminalizing them. If you were to read the article, or perhaps, any article on the realities of domestic violence you would perhaps see that the issue is not nearly as black and white as you appear to be making it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:10 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

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