Bresha Meadows was 14 years old in July 2016 when she allegedly used the gun that her father had brandished for years against her and her family (terrorizing and abusing them) to shoot him in his sleep. Bresha long learned to fear her father who had repeatedly made threats to kill her and her family. She was arrested and prosecutors refused to release Bresha while she awaited trial. The threat that she might be tried as an adult hung over her head until public pressure forced prosecutors to announce in December 2016 that she would be tried in juvenile court.
On May 22, 2017, Bresha submitted to a plea deal that would keep her in juvenile detention for a full year (which includes 10 months of time served) and an additional 6 months of confinement in a mental health ‘treatment” facility. During her months of detention, Bresha was put on suicide watch multiple times. Juvenile detention compounds trauma, it doesn’t heal it.
Bresha is just one of tens of thousands of incarcerated girls and young women across the United States. Understanding the details of how Bresha has been treated is instructive on how the criminal punishment system is a destructive force against children and youth, especially those who are Black. Bresha’s family and legal team credit popular support and organizing for pushing the state to offer Bresha a plea that prevented her from spending many many years behind bars.
This video was conceived by Mariame Kaba and narrated by CeCe McDonald. Directed and produced by Dean Spade and Hope Dector. Audio editing by Lewis Wallace. Audio recording by S.O. O’Brien. Artwork and photographs by Sarah-Jane Rhee, Molly Crabapple, Monica Trinidad, Kara Rodriguez, Bria Royal, Viko Alvarez, Ari Levin, Molly Costello, and Kathy Liang. Created by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and Survived and Punished.
More videos like this at the Survived and Punished website.
Domestic violence survivor, Ny Nourn, has finally been released from ICE detention! More info about the organizing to free her can be found in this article, and Ny released the letter below via Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus:
To My Loved Ones and Community,
Last Thursday, I walked out of the Yuba County Jail as a free person for the first time in sixteen years. At twenty, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole - a death in prison sentence. With a deportation hold on top of that, hope that I'd ever rejoin my community in California was slim. Prison walls make it even harder to protect what little hope we have by isolating us from our community outside.
I kept hope alive because of all of you. My heroes at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus fought alongside me in court, in prison, and in the streets. My (formerly) incarcerated family at the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and Survived and Punished reminded me that I'm not alone. All of you who took time to write me, attend a court hearing, or make a call to ICE gave me courage and hope that prison walls couldn't extinguish.
I'm free but ICE continues to appeal to send me back to immigration detention and deport me. I am joining all of you outside in fighting for not just my freedom, but for the freedom of all of my sisters and brothers that I left behind inside. Together, we can replace a system built to punish with humanity and compassion for all of us.
Here's how you can take action today:
1. In the past month, ICE has arrested hundreds of my Cambodian and Vietnamese refugee family. Sign the petition calling on ICE to stop the raids - https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-the-deportation-of-cambodian-refugees
2. Kelly Savage was a mentor to me and so many others in prison. Like me and countless other incarcerated survivors, Kelly was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a murder committed by her abusive partner. Sign a petition for Governor Jerry Brown to commute Kelly's sentence: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/give-domestic-violence-survivor-kelly-ann-savage-a-chance-at-parole
THESE SURVIVORS URGENTLY NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and we remain committed to ending domestic violence, dismantling the prison industry, and supporting the freedom of survivors who have been criminalized. This DVAM we are connecting you to three crucial freedom campaigns for survivors of domestic and sexual violence that urgently need your support secure their freedom:
Thank you very much for your solidarity with these survivors and your support of their freedom!
Oct 18, San Francisco: Free Ny Rally to Support Survivors and Protest ICE
Oct 21, New York City: Defending the Lives of Criminalized Survivors: A NYCTeach-In
And on Oct 27, the Free Tondalao Hall campaign is hosting a webinar: #ProjectBlackbird Presents---For Tondalao: Domestic Violence, Motherhood, & Mass Incarceration in Oklahoma
Kelly Ann Savage is an incarcerated survivor of severe domestic and sexual violence by her former husband. In 1995, Kelly tried to escape with her children after receiving safety plan directives from a domestic violence crisis line. When Kelly's abusive husband, Mark, learned that she was trying to escape, he tragically killed her 3-year old son Justin. Despite all her efforts to survive and escape with her children, the prosecution blamed Kelly for not escaping sooner. The prosecution completely ignored the documented dangers associated with attempting to leave an abusive partner. Research shows that women who attempt to leave their abusive husbands are at a 70-75% higher risk of being killed by their batterers than those who stay. The jury in Kelly’s trial was prevented from hearing testimony from an expert in domestic violence who could explain that batterers escalate their violence when victims attempt to escape. Blocking crucial expert testimony prevented Kelly’s right to a fair trial. Her conviction rested on the prosecution exploiting myths and misconceptions of survivors of abuse. Kelly was convicted of first-degree murder for “aiding and abetting” her abusive husband, and sentenced to Life Without Possibility of Parole. Since her conviction, Kelly has received support from domestic violence victim advocates across California who strongly support her release.
JOIN US in asking Governor Jerry Brown to commute Kelly’s sentence from Life Without Parole to a parole-eligible sentence!
Ny Nourn was born in a refugee camp after her mother fled the violence of genocide and US bombs in Cambodia. Ny was only five years old when she came as a refugee. When she was a high school junior, Ny entered into an abusive relationship with a man she met on the Internet. He was nearly twice her age. Just weeks after Ny turned 18, her abuser murdered the boss at her after school job in fit of jealousy. Over the next years, Ny’s life was filled with more beatings, rapes, and attempts to kill her than she can remember.
When Ny finally escaped and went to police to report the abuse and murder, police arrested her and charged her with aiding and abetting murder for having failed to intervene. A judge sentenced Ny to life in prison. After spending 16 years in prison, Ny was finally granted parole earlier this year.
Before she could take a breath of freedom, ICE agents handcuffed her outside the prison and took her to a county jail pending deportation to Cambodia. Ny’s community rallied behind her sending her hundreds of letters and packing the courtroom at her deportation hearing. In September, a judge granted Ny protection from deportation and ruled that she could not be deported to Cambodia. Still, ICE has refused to release her and plans to appeal the decision.
This system has inflicted enough punishment on Ny. TELL ICE TO FREE NY NOW!
A downloadable toolkit for organizing defense campaigns for criminalized survivors of violence.
#SurvivedAndPunished: Survivor Defense as Abolitionist Praxis is a collection of tools, tips, lessons and resources developed through our own experiences. It is also an effort to document and reflect on our own movement work. It is important for us to document especially because our organizing work has been led by Black women, women of color, immigrants and queer/trans people, who are so often erased from history. We hope to preserve some of these histories, build solidarity, and share hope as we continue our collective struggle.