All Articles Tagged "Marissa Alexander"
Marissa Alexander’s saga seems unending. But a group of women and various civil rights groups are hoping to help expedite the case. They are calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to fire the prosecutor in case, Angela Corey. She wants to triple Alexander’s initial 20-year sentence when the case is retried in July and if Alexander is convicted.
You may recall, “Alexander was initially sentenced to 20 years — three separate 20-year sentences that Alexander was ordered to serve concurrently – for firing what the defense argues was a warning shot in the direction of Rico Gray, her estranged husband, during an alleged domestic violence incident,” reports Salon. During the incident no one was injured and only one shot was fired into a wall. Gray, who admitted in court he had threatened Alexander’s life, had a history of violent abuse against Alexander, 31.
Alexander’s conviction was tossed out by the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. An appellate court ordered a new trial after it found that the jury instructions impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense. Alexander was released on bail on November 27, 2013 and placed under house arrest.
Alexander tried unsuccessfully to use the Stand Your Ground defense.
Now advocates including UltraViolet, Color of Change, and Black Youth Project 100 have joined forces to deliver 100,000 signatures gathered in a petition to Gov. Scott demanding that prosecutor Angela Corey be fired.
They claim the prosecutor’s blatant abuse of power has led to the possibility that a domestic violence survivor will be sentenced to decades behind bars . And that Corey has had a history of overzealous prosecution before targeting Alexander.
“Marissa Alexander’s case has struck a nerve because of the way it demonstrates the racial bias that exists in our justice system, resulting in disproportionate prosecution and harsher sentences handed to women of color. This case also demonstrates how the justice system has failed women– 75 percent of female prisoners are domestic violence survivors and 82 percent are survivors of child abuse. Worse, 1 in 10 face further sexual abuse while in prison,” states the petition.
Any person, with common sense…who isn’t racist can understand that there’s no rationale reason why Marissa Alexander was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison for firing a warning shot at her husband Rico Gray.
And according to Florida law, all of this was legal. It’s legal but it’s not just. And in an effort to address that, the state Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would grant immunity to people with clean criminal records who fire a warning shot or threaten to use deadly force in self defense. The law will also seal court records for those who are initially charged if those charges are later dropped.
Had this law been in effect during Marissa Alexander’s trial, she would have never had to serve jail time, though it’s unclear whether she was the impetus for the law.
Instead, the measure is being supported by the NRA and other gun groups. Since it has already been passed by the House as well, next it will go to Florida governor Rick Scott, who supports the 2nd Amendment and Florida’s self defense laws.
Florida senator Greg Evers says, “This is about self defense. It’s one more step forward for people to protect themselves.”
There were naysers however. Senator Arthenia Joyner, a democrat from Tampa, said, “A Pandora’s box is being opened again,” referencing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. I have a great apprehension about what’s inside.”
Other democrats were satisfied with it, believing it would warrant a more fair application of “Stand Your Ground” and include cases like Alexander’s.
Under the new law as well people who are found innocent in these “warning shot”/ self defense cases will have their records sealed, making them unavailable to the public.
You can get more information about the new law here.
What do you think, is it a good idea? Do you think it will prevent more cases like Marissa’s or do you believe it will create more problems than it solves?
Jacksonville Pastors Ask Angela Corey To Offer Original 3-Year Plea Deal To Marissa Alexander, Urge Alexander To Take It
Rev. Marvin McQueen of First Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville Beach also said that violence in the community is growing rapidly, including black-on-black crime that needs to be focused on, but this can’t happen with Alexander’s case taking away all the attention.“Given that she’s been granted a chance at a retrial, she should have the chance at a redo. A third racially polarizing trial would not be good for blacks or whites in this community,” he said. “We have been in the national and international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.”
“This is a chance to begin the healing and benefit the community.”Rev. Griffin claims that he and the other pastors aren’t trying to take sides, they just want to move forward to put the focus on improving the community. While a few months is better than possibly looking at 60 years, who wants to plead guilty to something that they feel they didn’t do? If Alexander truly was defending herself from her abusive husband, AND no one was hurt, she probably won’t want to accept a plea deal for this retrial. But who knows? For the sake of her children, if put back on the table, she might. But then again, this hasn’t been offered (yet), it’s just what folks in the community (the pastors) are calling for. According to the Times-Union, plea deal offers aren’t extended to individuals publicly, so we won’t know what’s really going to happen until she rejects or accepts an offer that comes her way when the trial begins again this summer. What do you make of all this?
‘It’s unclear if an Arizona mom got the job she was interviewing for, but after a witness found her children, ages 2 years and 6 months in a hot car outside, she now faces child abuse charges. Scottsdale police said a witness heard a crying child inside a Dodge Durango parked in an office complex parking lot at 9700 N. 91st St. in Scottsdale about 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The woman reported to police the two young children were inside the vehicle parked directly in the sun, with the engine off, the doors closed and each of the four windows were just slightly open. The mother, Shanesha Taylor, 35, returned to the vehicle about 45 minutes later and told the officer she had just finished a job interview and did not have anyone to watch her children.Yes, it is extremely sad – and desperately dangerous – for a mother to leave her two small children alone in a vehicle. It’s even more sad and just as dangerous that we lock up a woman, whose sole crime is being homeless with children. And Shanesha Taylor is not alone. I read stories daily of black women being mistreated by law enforcement and jailed for peculiar reasons. From the trivial, including the unbelievably silly stories of black women being arrested and jailed for wearing thongs on the beach, to the more heartbreakingly sad story of the black mother who was arrested and even incarcerated for sending her child to the wrong school district, and other odd reasons in between. In very few of those occasions do these stories ever occupy the national black conscious beyond casual expressions of sympathy (i.e. “that’s so sad…”). In many instances, these peculiarly-arrested black women are likely to be vilified and implicated in their own miscarriage of justice by the community-at-large. Honestly, I feel that if not for the Marissa Alexander case being in such close proximity to the Trayvon Martin case – both in locale and in timing – would we really care about her story at all? Honestly? Missing from most conversations around incarcerations are the statistics, which show how black women are the fastest growing prison population in the country and how the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for black women is 1 in 19; compare that with 1 in 118 for white women. Also missing is how young black girls are “disproportionately affected by punitive, zero-tolerance policies,” which contribute to the much discussed (but never in terms of female children) school-to-prison pipeline. In this report entitled “Race, Gender and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Expanding Our Discussion to Include Black Girls,” Monique W. Morris cites research, which found that teachers perceived black girls as being ‘loud, defiant, and precocious’ and that black girls were more likely to be reprimanded for being “unladylike” (including behavior described as loud, defiant and precocious) than their white or Latina peers. Likewise, there is little talk about our current welfare policies and practices, particularly how the Department of Human Services and the justice system often work together to strip mostly black and poor women of their autonomies and rights as mothers – and it happens all in the name of protecting the welfare of children. According to this Frontline report, black children in the child welfare system are placed in foster care at twice the rate for white children. In this UCLA Law Review article entitled “Prison, Foster Care, and the Systemic Punishment of Black Mothers” Dorothy E. Roberts poignantly points outs this:“She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation,” said Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark. She was arrested and booked into jail for child abuse. Her children are now in CPS custody.”
“As neoliberal policies strip poor African American neighborhoods of needed services, poor and low-income black mothers tend to receive child welfare support only when they have been charged with child maltreatment. An African American woman I interviewed in a black Chicago neighborhood poignantly captured this fundamental problem with U.S. child welfare philosophy: [T]he advertisement [for the child abuse hotline], it just says abuse. If you being abused, this is the number you call, this is the only way you gonna get help. It doesn’t say if I’m in need of counseling, or if . . . my children don’t have shoes, if I just can’t provide groceries even though I may have seven kids, but I only get a hundred something dollars food stamps. And my work check only goes to bills. I can’t feed eight of us all off a hundred something dollar food stamps . . . I don’t want to lose my children, so I’m not going to call [Department of Children and Family Services] for help because I only see them take away children.”When I read about the Shanesha Taylor case, I can’t help but to think how she, as a homeless mother trying to land employment, felt in that moment about relying on the system for help? And with all the talk from Washington about cuts to welfare, was the system even an available option? I also wonder how prosecuting her actually serves in the best interest of these children? What could be gained from turning their mother into a criminal, which will now pretty much guarantee that she will never hold a job again? How does traumatically ripping them from their mother’s arms and placing them into the unpredictable foster care system act in their welfare? In this peculiar justice system, which seems to punish poor women for the crime of being poor and of few options, we have contributed to the overall economic and familial instability of the most vulnerable members of society: the children we are supposed to be protecting. Another statistic to note comes from the American Civil Liberties Union website, which says that girls of color who are victims of abuse are more likely to be processed by the criminal justice system and labeled as offenders than white girls, who are more likely to be treated as victims and referred to child welfare and mental health systems. There is no denying that race too plays a part in how we view black women and their encounters with the justice system. Even more of a reason why Shanesha Taylor deserves our support and the benefit of the doubt.
“Incarcerating Marissa Alexander will send a strong message to all survivors that violence against them will be ignored and they instead will be subject to prosecution if they defend their lives.”What do you think about State Attorney Corey’s pursuit of a possible 60 years in prison for Alexander?
Earlier this week, we told you that Florida’s State Attorney, Angela Corey, submitted a petition to revoke Marissa Alexander’s bond. Corey claimed that Alexander ran errands while she was on house arrest, violating the conditions of her home detention release. But today, the court upheld Alexander’s release and she will not have to go back to prison while she awaits her second trial.
Alexander’s legal team was able to prove that a Service counselor, who supervised Marissa’s house, approved every trip and asserted that Alexander was not in violation of the terms of her release.
Many, including the “Free Marissa Now,” group believe that Corey’s actions are yet another example of the harassment Alexander has received since the beginning of her case. One member of the group, Aleta Slton-Touré said, “While we are relieved that Corey’s motion was denied, we must ask the question, why is Angela Corey targeting rather than supporting Marissa Alexander, a victim of domestic violence who defended her life after her husband strangled her and threatened to have her killed?”
Good question, indeed.
State Attorney Angela Corey Seeks To Revoke Marissa Alexander’s Bond Because She Allegedly Ran “Errands”
Not even two months after Marissa Alexander was released on bail, Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey is seeking to revoke her bond.
According to First Coast News, Angela filed the motion, insisting that Marissa violated the terms of her release. If you recall, Marissa was to remain on home detention; however, according to Angela’s motion, Marissa left her home on several occasions to “run errands.” According to Jacksonville.com, her alleged errands consisted of shopping for clothes, getting a new driver’s license, going to the bank and driving family members to the hair salon and airport.
Marissa, who was released on bond on Nov. 27, spent the last two years in prison for firing a warning shot during a domestic dispute with her husband, who admitted that he threatened to kill her. After passing on a 3-year plea deal for the offense, Marissa was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Representatives on behalf of Marissa have yet to publicly comment on Angela’s motion and allegations.
A hearing regarding Marissa’s bond violation is scheduled for this Friday. We will keep you posted as this story develops.
After spending over 1,000 days behind bars, the Florida woman who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for firing off what was said to be a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband, has been released from prison. And thankfully, just in time to spend Thanksgiving with her family—including her youngest child, whom her attorney says has been without her mother for the first three years of her life.
According to First Coast News, Marissa Alexander was released on $200,000 bond Wednesday night at 10:30 pm. The Duval County Clerk of Court says Alexander was granted a pretrial release with special conditions. If you recall, though Alexander merely fired a warning shot and no one was injured during the incident, she was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, which resulted in a mandatory 20-year sentence thanks to Florida’s “10-20-Life” law. The 2012 conviction was overturned this past September when a judge ordered a retrial after finding that an unfair burden was placed on Alexander’s defense to prove that she fire the shot in self-defense.
The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign released a celebratory statement acknowledging the Florida mom’s release on Thanksgiving morning.
“Words cannot express the relief and joy of everyone in the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign that Marissa Alexander is home with her family this Thanksgiving Day,” organizers wrote
“We are thrilled that Ms. Alexander will be able to prepare for her new trial amid the support and love of her children and family from whom she has been separated far too long,” the statement continued.
This is great news for Alexander, who has been experiencing major difficulties regarding bond hearings. We’re thrilled that she was able to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Her new trial is set to begin March 31, 2014.
Earlier this month, we mentioned that Marissa Alexander, the woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her husband, had a chance at a new trial. And then we learned that her attorneys were fighting to get her released on bond while she waited for that new trial.
Yesterday, Judge James Daniel refused to make a decision about whether or not Marissa would be able to be released on bond. Daniel said he would rule later on an unspecified date.
He said in court, “I’ll get to this as soon as I can,” claiming that he has 50 other cases in his docket.
According to Jackonsville.com, State attorney Richard Mantei argued Alexander should stay in jail and not be released on bond because she still poses a threat to Rico Gray, her estranged husband. Alexander was originally released on bond after the incident between she and her husband occurred in August 2010. She was ordered to stay away from her husband. But she violated the judge’s orders and went to see Gray and beat him in the face. She pled no contest and was sentenced to time served.
For this reason Mantei believes Alexander, if released, would repeat this same behavior. But Alexander’s attorney, Bruce Zimet, argued that his client should be granted bail because Gray sent text messages to Alexander asking if he could still have sex with her.
This information may seem completely unrelated, but Alexander’s attorneys argue that if he is attempting to have sex with her, he is no longer afraid of what she might do to him if released.
Zimet also said that if bond were granted Alexander would stay away from Gray, observe a curfew from dusk til dawn and work as a custodian at the Justice Faith Chapel Church of God.
While Judge Daniel is refusing to make a ruling, his indecision means that Alexander will have to go back to jail in the meantime.
Alexander’s next pretrial hearing is set for January 15 and her new trial will take place March 31.