California Governor Commutes Barbara Chavez!
Survived & Punished: Community Organizing is Central to Ending the Criminalization of Survival
On March 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown commuted the sentences of 14 people and pardoned 56 people, including the commutation of Barbara Chavez. Barbara, a mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence, has been imprisoned at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) for over 20 years and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. This commutation gives Barbara the chance to be considered for prison release by the Board of Parole Hearings.
The California Survived & Punished team partnered with Barbara's family to help organize public support for her freedom. We thank everyone who signed the petition supporting Barbara’s commutation and joined us for the March 28th twitter power hour to raise awareness about the cases of Barbara Chavez and Tammy Garvin. Your support was key in this win. Our collective action is our greatest strength to #FreeThemAll and end the criminalization of survival!
Barbara Chavez also sends much appreciation to all who supported her freedom, stating, “I am so grateful and humbled by the amount of support I have gotten from the Survived and Punished project and those of you that have signed the petition in support of my Commutation. Thank you all and God Bless you!!!”
Like Barbara Chavez, the vast majority of people in women’s prisons are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Many of them are serving life without parole (LWOP) sentences. Prisons are a form of institutionalized sexual violence, and forcing survivors to spend the rest of their lives in a cell continues and escalates the violence they experienced on the outside. LWOP sentencing exposes the integral relationship between the criminal punishment system and sexual/domestic violence.
Governor Brown’s growing rate of commutations creates a rare opportunity for those with life and life without parole sentences to be released from prison, but he has less than one year left in his term. It’s critical that people take the following actions!
Barbara Chavez urges supporters to continue the crucial organizing to end LWOP sentencing, stating, "What the Governor has managed to do here is shed light in a dark, lost world and offer a glimmer of hope to the hopeless. There has been a huge paradigm shift at CCWF for the good! It is my hope and prayer he continues to grant Commutations to survivors of every form of abuse. It’s time to turn Life Without Parole into Life With Optimism and Purpose!"
@survivepunish | facebook.com/survivedandpunished | survivedandpunished.org
Statement from Justice for Muslims Collective & other advocates and organizers...
We Stand With Noor Salman
Over 100 plus organizations stand with Noor Salman and demand an end to the prosecution against her. If you would like to sign on or get involved, please email email@example.com. We are also thankful to ICE Free Queen and IMI Corona for translating the statement into Spanish.
Organizational Endorsement Letter For Noor Salman
We Stand With Noor SalmanNoor Salman currently stands trial in Orlando, Florida in a case related to the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub by her deceased husband, Omar Mateen. On Monday, January 15, 2017, Ms. Salman, a 31-year-old Muslim mother of a three year old and a domestic violence survivor, was arrested on two charges, which include aiding and abetting Mateen in providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and obstruction of justice for providing conflicting statements to the FBI. If convicted of the charges against her, Ms. Salman faces life in prison.
Our organizations work for gender and reproductive justice, LGBTQ justice, racial and economic justice, disability justice, civil rights and human rights in different communities across the United States. We share the grief and pain for those whose lives were lost, those who survived and their loved ones and communities. And, we oppose this prosecution, which scapegoats Ms. Salman in the quest to ensure that someone pay the price for Mateen’s actions. We stand with Noor Salman, a mother and survivor of domestic violence.
The prosecution of Ms. Salman is rooted in gendered Islamophobia and patriarchy. She is being prosecuted under the guise of guilt by association as a Muslim woman married to a Muslim man who committed mass violence. As noted in theIntercept, there are numerous weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against Salman, which essentially serves as a test case to prosecute partners of accused terrorists on the grounds of complicity. The FBI has aimed to hold girlfriends and wives accountable for their partners’ actions for some time, especially when the couple is Muslim. Furthermore, Ms. Salman’s religious identity has been used by the FBI to threaten her. During the initial interrogation by the FBI which took place over 17 hours in which she was detained and questioned, including hours in which her infant child was present and no legal counsel was present, FBI officials threatened to take her son away from her and place him in a Christian home. She is a victim of the domestic War on Terror, through which the government has used racial and religious profiling tactics to subject Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims to investigations, interrogations, deportations, and prosecutions simply because of their faith, relationships, and guilt by association.
Ms. Salman is also a domestic violence survivor. The government’s charges against Ms. Salman disregard the history of domestic abuse, rape, and threats that Ms. Salman endured during her marriage to Mateen and the impact of intimate partner violence on her and her child’s life. This abuse has been documented, for example, in a recent New York Times article that reported that “Ms. Salman has said her husband punched her, choked her, threatened to kill her, and coerced her into sex and left her isolated in their home.” Ms. Salman publicly disclosed the abuse she endured within six months of being married, which included physical abuse during her pregnancy and threats to take sole custody of their child. Ms. Salman’s cousin, Susan Adieh, also affirmed that Mateen mistreated his wife. Upon seeing the news about the mass shooting, Ms. Adieh worried that “[Mateen] had killed [Ms. Salman] at the house before he went [to Orlando].” Accusations of abuse against Mateen were not only made by Ms. Salman, but by his first wife, Sitora Yusify. Domestic violence expert Jacquelyn Campbell evaluated Ms. Salman’s case, and asserted that based on the dynamics of violence in the relationship, Ms. Salman could not have been aware of Mateen’s plans.
This prosecution punishes Ms. Salman for the actions of Omar Mateen and the violence he inflicted upon those around him, including her. This criminalization of Ms. Salman continues the cycle of dehumanization and terror that she experienced in her marriage to Mateen, and does not allow her to heal and re-build her life. The prosecution of Ms. Salman in today’s climate of Islamophobia and the War on Terror has alarming repercussions for Muslim women and for all survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are criminalized for the actions of their abusive partners.
We stand with Noor Salman and demand an end to the prosecution against her.
Estamos en Solidaridad con Noor Salman
Mas de 100 organizaciones nos levantamos en solidaridad con Noor Salman y exigimos un fin al enjuiciamiento en contra de ella. Si usted quiere agregar su firma o mantenerse involucrado, por favor envíenos un correo electrónico a: firstname.lastname@example.org
Declaración de Respaldo Organizativo para Noor Salman Estamos en Solidaridad con Noor Salman
Actualmente Noor Salman enfrenta juicio en Orlando, Florida en el caso relacionado con el tiroteo masivo del 2016 en el club nocturno Pulse por su esposo ya fallecido, Omar Mateen. El Lunes 15 de enero del 2017, la Sra. Salman, una mujer musulmana de 31 años de edad, madre de un niño de 3 años y sobreviviente de violencia doméstica, fue arrestada y acusada de dos cargos , incluyendo ayudar e instigar a Mateen en proveer apoyo material a una organización terrorista en el extranjero, y obstrucción a la justicia por proveer testimonio contradictorios al FBI. Si es declarada culpable de los cargos en contra de ella, la Sra. Salman enfrentará una sentencia de cadena perpetua.
Nuestras organizaciones trabajan en defensa a la justicia de género y reproductiva, la justicia de la comunidad LBGTQ, la justicia racial y económica, la justicia de discapacidad,y los derechos humanos y civiles en diferentes comunidades en todos los Estados Unidos. Compartimos el dolor y aflicción por aquellas vidas que se perdieron, por lxs sobrevivientes, sus seres queridxs y sus comunidades. Y también nos oponemos a este juicio, el cual erróneamente culpa a la Sra. Salman en busqueda de que alguien pague el precio por las acciones de Mateen. Estamos en solidaridad con Noor Salman, una madre y sobreviviente de violencia doméstica.
El juicio de la Sra. Salman está enraizado en una islamofobia machista y el patriarcado. Ella está siendo juzgada bajo la excusa de que es culpable por asociación al ser una mujer musulmana casada con un hombre musulmán quien cometió un acto de violencia masiva. Tal como fue reportado en el diario The Intercept , hay varios puntos débiles en el argumento que se están usando para el caso en contra a Salman, el cúal básicamente está sirviendo como un experimento para poder justificar el juicio de las parejas de personas acusadas de terrorismo bajo argumentos de complicidad. Desde hace ya un tiempo el FBI ha buscado culpar y hacer rendir cuentas a las parejas románticas y esposas de personas acusadas de terrorismo, tratando de hacerlas responsables por las acciones de sus esposos, especialmente cuando las personas son musulmanas. Adicionalmente, la identidad religiosa de la Sra. Salman ha sido usada por el FBI para amenazarla. Durante la interrogación inicial, el FBI la detuvo y la interrogó por más de 17 horas, incluso en frente de su hijo menor de edad, y si ningún abogadx presente. El FBI amenazó con separarla de su hijo y mandarlo a un albergue Cristiano. Ella es víctima de la Guerra contra el Terrorismo que ocurre domésticamente dentro de los Estados Unidos, la cual se ha utilizado como estrategia por el gobierno para poner en práctica tácticas de vigilancia de perfil racial y de religión para arrestar a personas árabes, sudasiáticas, y musulmanas para investigarlas, interrogarlas, deportarlas y juzgarlas simplemente por sus creencias religiosa y relaciones, culpándolas por asociación.
La Sra. Salman también es sobreviviente de violencia doméstica. Los cargos del gobierno en contra de la Sra. Salman no toman en cuenta la historia de abuso doméstico, violación, y amenazas que la Sra. Salman a sufrido durante su matrimonio con Mateen y el impacto que la violación por su pareja íntima ha tenido sobre su vida y la de su hijo. Este abuso ha sido documentado, por ejemplo, en un artículo reciente del New York Times , que reporta que “La Sra. Salman ha dicho que su esposo la puñeteo, la ahorcó, la amenazaba con matarla, la forzaba a participar en actos sexuales y la aislaba en su hogar.” La Sra. Salman reveló públicamente el abuso que ella sufrió durante seis meses de matrimonio, el cual incluye abuso físico durante su embarazo y amenazas de perder la custodia de su hijo. La prima de la Sra. Salman, Susan Adieh, también confirmó que Mateen maltrataba a su esposa. Al ver las noticias del tiroteo masivo, la Sra. Adieh estaba preocupada de que “[Mateen] hubiera matado a [la Sra. Salman] en la casa antes de que él fuera a [Orlando].” Las acusaciones en contra de Mateen no solo fueron hechas por la sra. Salman, más también por su primera esposa, Sitora Yulsify. Jacquelyn Campbell, experta en violencia doméstica, evaluó el caso de la sra. Salman, y determinó que basado en las dinámicas de violencia en la relación, la sra. Salman no pudo haber estado al tanto de los planes de Mateen.
Este juicio castigará a sra. Salman por las acciones de Omar Mateen y la violencia que el causo a otrxs a su alrededor, incluyendo a ella misma. La criminalización de la sra. Salman continúa el mismo ciclo de deshumanización y terror que ella vivió durante su matrimonio con Mateen, y no le permite sanar y reconstruir su vida. El juicio de la sra. Salman durante este clima político de islamofobia y de la Guerra contra el Terrorismo tiene repercusiones alarmantes para las mujeres musulmanas y para todxs lxs sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica y de violencia sexual, quienes son criminalizadxs por las acciones de sus parejas abusivas.
Estamos en solidaridad con Noor Salman y exigimos el fin al juicio en contra de ella.
Signed (list in formation),
Firma (lista en proceso),
A Safe Place
About Face: Veterans Against the War
Advocates for Youth
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
APIENC (API Equaity – Northern California)
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
Asian Women’s Shelter
Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project
Black and Pink, Inc.
Boston Feminists for Liberation
BYP100 DC Chapter
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Community Acupuncture Project
Community Responders Network
Community United Against Violence (CUAV)
CONNECT – Preventing Interpersonal Violence, Promoting Gender Justice
DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Defending Rights & Dissent
DIVAS: Discussing Intimate Violence & Accessing Support ~ A Program for Incarcerated Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
Domestic Harmony Foundation
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
Facing Abuse in Community Environments (FACE)
Feminist Islamic Troublemakers of North America
Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign
Futures Without Violence
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Gender Violence Clinic, University of Maryland Carey School of Law
Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
HEART Women & Girls
ICE Free Queens
Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
IMI Corona, Queens
INCITE! Women & Trans People of Color Against Violence
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc
International Muslim Women’s Initiative For Self-Empowerment
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Jewish Voice For Peace
Jewish Voice For Peace DC
Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism
Justice For Muslims Collective
Kankakee County Coalition Against Domestic Violence / Harbor House
Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse
Make The Road NY
Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition
Middle Way House, Inc.
Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition
Muslim Advocacy Network Against Domestic Violence
Muslim Alliance For Sexual And Gender Diversity (MASGD)
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Muslim Justice League
Muslim Women For
Muslim Women Kreate
Muslim Womxn at Ryerson
Naree-O-Shonghothok ; Bangladeshi Feminist Collective
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
National Lawyers Guild
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Ohio Domestic Violence Network
Partnership For The Advancement of New Americans
Philadelphia South Asian Collective
Raha Iranian Feminist Organization
Sakhi for South Asian Women
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Youth Action
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
STEPS to End Family Violence
Sugarlimb Consulting, LLC
Survived & Punished
The Aafia Foundation, Inc.
The Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women
The New School Expanded Sanctuary Working Group
Transgender Law Center
Turning Point for Women and Families
Ujima Inc: The National Resource Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance
WA State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
War Resisters League
Witness Against Torture
Women of Color Network, Inc.
Aviva Stahl @ Broadly; excerpt below:
In prison, strip and cavity searches are a routine, mandated part of everyday life, and prisoners can have no expectation of privacy when they’re showering or changing. You can be placed in contexts where you are completely at the mercy of abusive staff — like Yvette Gonzales, who was placed in “protective” solitary confinement a New York state prison, then raped repeatedly by a correctional officer. It’s an environment in which, by definition, your physical autonomy is stripped from you entirely — even consensual sex and even masturbation are punishable offenses. In that sense, the epidemic of sexual violence in prisons makes perfect sense.
The bottom line is that prisons are inextricably linked to sexual violence — and centering and lifting up all survivors will be impossible unless we humanize those behind bars. “We’re not going to stop sexual violence by continuing to criminalize people,” said Mariame Kaba of Survived & Punished. “If you’re anti-rape, you’re going to have to be anti-prison.”
Full article here.
Survived and Punished calls for the freedom of all incarcerated survivors. California has increased the number of commutations for Life Without Parole sentencing, meaning fewer people are sentenced to die in prison because they have a chance at parole. One strategy has been raising public awareness of multiple cases within the intersections of sexual, racial, domestic, and carceral violence, and organizing public support to urge the Governor to commute more sentences and free more people.
Please sign the petition to #FreeTammyGarvin!
Tammy Garvin is an incarcerated survivor who was convicted for her trafficker/abuser’s lethal violence. For surviving, Tammy has been in prison for 27 years already. She is serving Life Without Parole in California.
Tammy was only 14 years old when she was trafficked, and by the time she was convicted and sentenced to Life Without Parole in her 30s, she suffered from the long-term effects of severe psychological and sexual abuse.
Incarcerated survivors are leading groups to support survivors and advocate to de-criminalize survival from within the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), the biggest women’s prison in the U.S. (and likely the world).
Tammy has a real chance at clemency during Governor Brown’s last year, but only if we insist on it. Can you help us get over 100 signatures to #FreeTammyGarvin today on her 59th birthday?
Welcome home, Bresha.
In this post, #FreeBresha organizers Colby Lenz and Mariame Kaba review how #FreeBresha successfully advocated for Bresha Meadows, an Ohio teen who was jailed after killing her father in self-defense. (Originally published at Teen Vogue)
Bresha Meadows was released to return to her family on February 4, after surviving juvenile and mental health incarceration since her arrest in July 2016.
Bresha was only 14 years old when she was charged with killing her father, who her mother and family said had inflicted years of abuse on them. Instead of receiving compassionate care, Bresha was criminalized for what many consider to have been self-defense. Prosecutors charged her with aggravated murder and sought to try her as an adult. She faced a potential life sentence in prison in Ohio. After instead pleading "true" to a charge of involuntary manslaughter, Bresha was sentenced to one year in a juvenile jail (with 10 months already served), six months of confinement in a mental health facility, and two years of probation once released.
Bresha’s attempts to escape domestic violence and seek help were blocked by multiple systemsthat ultimately failed to support her, including the police and Child Protective Services. Bresha’s story reveals the powerful pipeline between girls’ experiences of domestic and sexual violence and their forced entry into carceral systems.
Once arrested, black girls like Bresha face disproportionately high rates of prosecution and incarceration. Once incarcerated, Bresha joined the 84% of girls in the juvenile justice systemwho have experienced family violence prior to incarceration.
We are both part of #FreeBresha, the small organizing collective that brought Bresha’s case to national and international attention. In August 2016, we formed a volunteer, ad-hoc defense committee to demand her freedom. A defense committee or campaign is a grassroots effort to secure the freedom of a person targeted for criminalization, through community organizing, political pressure, community education, legal and media advocacy, and other strategies. As part of an effort to #FreeBresha, we organized calls to action and then coordinated and publicized widespread decentralized actions into an organizing force to be reckoned with. Supporters across the world demanded care and resources, not cages, for Bresha and all survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
We took a number of actions to #FreeBresha. We created a petition to drop the charges against her. We organized mass letter-writing to the prosecutor to release her immediately. We demanded media attention. We invited supporters to send postcards, letters, and books to Bresha. We promoted book drives and delivered thousands of books by women of color nationwide. We raised money for legal experts and emergency family support. We raised awareness about the abuse-to-prison pipeline for Black girls and women by producing a curriculum that was used at teach-ins and events across the country. We protested. We amped up support when Bresha was on suicide watch. We organized vigils. We solicited and circulated powerful artwork. We mobilized our allies in the antiviolence sector. We uplifted survival and freedom campaigns for other criminalized survivors. We wrote poetry and songs. We stormed Twitter. We organized court support for Bresha’s hearings.
Collectively, we organized to #FreeBresha.
And — against the force of mass criminalization and its targeting of Black children — we won.
Bresha should never have been incarcerated, but it is a win nonetheless. The punishment system was unsuccessful in disappearing this young Black woman. As Bresha continued to endure punishment and isolation, we organized alongside her dedicated family and pro bono legal team, connected in our commitment to see her — and all survivors — supported and free. Our team worked hard and quickly, with no funding, office, or institutional support. We had the power of the people, though, and the momentum and tactics of a centuries-long tradition of freedom campaigns. We also had a broad national network of organizers ready to mobilize, especially youth organizers.
Collectively, we demanded freedom and care for Bresha. We opposed her further traumatization and structural abandonment by criminalization. We refused to accept that, for defending her life, Bresha would be further victimized by state violence, compounding her existing trauma and adding her to the list of girls and women filling cages nationwide — to be counted among the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population. We connected Bresha’s placement on suicide watch to the traumatic effects of incarceration and isolation on youth and adults. We tied our need to increase support for Bresha to organizing against the suicide crisis in California women’s prisons, demanding an end to the deadly practice of incarceration.
We refused to exceptionalize survivor freedom as we organized in solidarity with movements to end the criminalization of survival of all kinds. We made Bresha’s case visible, to demand her freedom and to pressure prosecutors to stop pressing charges against survivors, if for no better reason than to avoid the organized threat of public exposure and shame. In Ohio, we heard from people who would know that prosecutors were nervous and concerned about the level of public attention and public pressure being brought to bear around Bresha’s case. The sheer number of media outlets from around the world calling to ask permission to film Bresha’s trial was a testament to the attention. We did this.
Along the way, our defense committee received increasing requests for support for other criminalized survivor campaigns, so we worked with our Survived & Punished team to develop a toolkit to help resource people organizing grassroots freedom campaigns. We also continued to strategize mass defense campaigns for all criminalized survivors.
Now, as Bresha returns home, we continue to urge criminal justice reform, abolition, and antiviolence movements to recognize that prisons of all forms are both filled with survivors and producers of state sexual violence. This is a crucial feminist issue, since survivors of domestic and sexual violence are disproportionately girls, women, and gender nonconforming people. Trans survivors are disproportionately criminalized and must be prioritized for resources and support. We call on the antiviolence movement in particular to make the changes necessary to include criminalized survivors at the center of survivor advocacy and service models. These changes need to happen at every point of criminalization — from prevention to arrest, pretrial, postconviction, and postrelease.
Bresha’s case also reminds us why we all must work to develop and practice transformative solutions to violence that do not rely on carceral systems, including policing, prosecution, and prisons.
Bresha still has two years of probation before her, so she is still under state surveillance. She is home but still not “free.” We will remain vigilant on her behalf. All who demanded Bresha’s freedom played a role in her survival and release and in pushing national discourse toward decriminalizing survival. Now, it continues to be on all of us to keep doing the work to end the criminalization of survival and to demand safe, resourced futures for Black girls like Bresha and for all survivors.
Welcome home Bresha. #FreeThemAll
Does the #MeToo anti-violence movement reach survivors of domestic and sexual violence in California’s women’s prisons? Recent reforms to curb mass incarceration in the U.S. have reduced the total number of men in state prisons since 2009, but populations in women’s prisons have increased in 35 states. The Prison Policy Initiative found that the criminalization of women expanded in part because actions taken to survive domestic and sexual violence (e.g. self-defense, drug dependence, sex industry, etc.) have been increasingly criminalized.
California has been a particularly troubling site for intersections of gender violence and carceral violence. Though women’s incarceration in the state is decreasing, it is likely due to court-ordered reductions in its prison population following a 2011 Supreme Court ruling asserting that California’s prison overcrowding violated the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has also been cited for egregious institutional abuse of people in women’s prisons. In 2017, the California State Auditor released a highly critical report highlighting CDCR’s failure to implement effective suicide prevention and response policies, and uncovering dangerous prison conditions at the California Institution for Women (CIW) which led to a soaring suicide rate over the past four years. Also in 2017, four trans and queer people of color, all of whom identify as survivors of sexual trauma, filed a lawsuit against the State of California and the CDCR, stating that they were beaten and sexually violated by correctional officers, and were then denied medical treatment for their injuries and prevented from filing grievances. This lawsuit is one of multiple cases filed against CDCR for sexual violence and wrongful death in the last several years.
Survived and Punished (S&P) is an all-volunteer statewide and national project that illuminates the “gender violence to prison pipeline,” and analyzes how carcerality is part of the cultural infrastructure of rape and domestic violence. S&P joins others who contend that #MeToo efforts that highlight sexual and domestic violence must also address how this violence is an integral component of carceral systems – including police, immigration enforcement, prisons, court systems, and other structures of punishment and surveillance. Therefore, for S&P, securing pathways to freedom from prisons and detention centers must be a central anti-violence goal.
On December 2-3, 2017, S&P convened over 30 advocates and activists who are also formerly incarcerated survivors of domestic or sexual violence. This convening was an opportunity to learn directly from formerly incarcerated survivors about their experiences of criminalization and barriers to release, as well as collectively identify California-based decarceral strategies to increase the rate of prison release for people in women’s prisons and trans women in men’s prisons.
BARRIERS TO RELEASE
Convening participants identified barriers to release that have been previously documented as ongoing institutional problems, such as the lack of access to free/affordable and effective legal representation, the lack of information about new legislation that increases pathways for release, and coerced plea deals that can forfeit the right to appeal. Additionally, participants also explored lesser known barriers that are often gendered, such as the role of abusive partners in manipulating judicial processes, parole board discrimination against survivors of domestic violence, immediate ICE detention after prison release, and the refusal of prison officials to follow court release orders, sometimes out of retaliation if the incarcerated person has filed a complaint about abuse while in prison.
The Board of Parole Hearings was highlighted as a particularly problematic institution with largely unchecked power to extend incarceration. Some survivors reported getting rejected for parole over ten times, and others described how identifying as a survivor of gender violence can be used as a reason to prevent their release because it is distorted as evidence that they are not “sufficiently remorseful.” The relationship between ICE enforcement and prisons was also identified as extremely dangerous. Even if some survivors are able to achieve freedom in one system, they may end up facing multiple points of incarceration after being released. The fear of deportation and isolation can cause profound emotional barriers to fighting for release. It is also extremely difficult to secure free/low-cost legal representation with expertise within multiple systems as well as skills for developing dual parole plans.
SOURCES OF SUPPORT & RECOMMENDATIONS
Participants identified multiple key sources of support that helped them navigate their way to freedom. The nonprofit, California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), was cited as a crucial resource that helped create conditions that improved the likelihood of release, including providing volunteer legal advocacy, and advocating for the health and survival needs of imprisoned people. As a membership-based organization, CCWP also creates community networks inside and outside prisons that decrease isolation and provide the grassroots political support that strengthens advocacy efforts. Community groups, such as the TGI Justice Project and the Asian Law Caucus, also organize people to attend court hearings, a support that participants identified as a tremendously valuable strategy that supported their feelings of individual worth, and demonstrated community support to the court.
Additionally, participants identified a number of recommended actions to widen the pathways for release, including building more supportive post-release institutions and resources for women, queer, and trans people; building advocacy networks for survivors to provide crucial support such as legal advocacy, health support, etc. as soon as survivors are arrested; holding prosecutors accountable for making choices to prosecute survivors and ending the prosecutorial conviction incentive; increasing organized court watches to decrease isolation and make judicial processes less hidden; exposing how multiple sectors of carceral systems actively discriminate and punish survivors; building more coalitions between immigration justice advocates and victim advocates; and continuing to support public grassroots defense campaigns that can advocate for commutations and paroles.
This convening was hosted by the UC Berkeley Center for Race & Gender and supported with a generous grant from the UC Irvine Initiative to End Family Violence. It was an important early step to set the preliminary groundwork for an organizing and advocacy model that incorporates a complex understanding of the criminalization of survival, and increases access to freedom.
Mapping the “gender violence to prison” pipeline.
탈출하고자 했던 박해를 이민자 수용소에서 거듭 겪은 한국인 가정 폭력 생존자의 발언 | "Being Detained Feels Like the Abuse I Tried to Escape": A Korean Survivor Speaks Out From Immigration Detention
김이화씨는 길고 긴 8개월 동안 박해와 학대를 이민자 수용소 안에서 겪은 후 2017년 12월 28일 오전에 한국으로 강제로 출국당한다. After 8 long months of abuse and harassment in immigration detention, Yihwa Kim is being forced to return back to South Korea on a morning flight on December 28 2017. Please read Yihwa Kim's story in English here at Truthout.
김이화씨는 한국에서 사는 동안 아버지와 그리고 그와 연관된 사람들로부터 극단적인 학대와 성폭력을 오랫동안 받아왔다. 그 고통을 피하기 위해 2017년 4월 그녀는 한국을 떠나 미국으로 들어오면서 망명 신청을 하였는데, 곧바로 이민자 수용소로 보내졌다. 11월에 그녀는 6개월이 넘는 수용소 생활을 하면 가지게 되는 이민자의 보석 심리권을 요청하나, 그녀의 망명 심사를 담당한 판사는 전직 국토안보부 검찰관으로서 그녀의 요청을 무참히 거부했다. 오래된 수용소 생활속에 필요한 의료조치를 받지 못함으로 인해 그녀의 건강상태가 악화되었고, 수용소 생활이 언제 끝날지 모르는 상황이 계속되자, 그녀는 12월 1일 입국허가취하를 요청하게 된다. 판사가 그녀의 망명신청을 취소함에 따라, 그녀는 몇 주 안에 한국으로 강제 출국을 당하게 되는 상황에 처해있다. 12월 1일에 있었던 공판중 그녀는 “한국으로 강제 출국을 당하는 것은 자살행위와 다름 없지만, 수용소에서 2년 혹은 3년까지도 수감되어 있는 사람들을 보면서 나도 그런 처지에 처할 수 있다는 사실과, 그렇게 오래된 수감 생활 동안 의료서비스를 받지 못할 것을 감안해, 입국허가취하 신청을 할 수 밖에 없었다. . . 나는 여기 감옥 안에서 죽고 싶지 않다”고 말했다.
탈출하고자 했던 박해를 이민자 수용소에서 거듭 겪고 있는 한국인 가정 폭력 생존자의 발언
내가 왜 2017년 4월에 샌프란시코 공항에 도착했을때 출입국 관리사무원들에 의해 집중적인 인터뷰와 검색의 대상자로 선택되었는지는 지금도 정확하게 알지 못한다. 그들은 나를 무례한 태도로 대하면서 방문의 이유와 상관도 없는 별별 질문을 다하더니, 창문도 없는 아주 작은 조사실로 나를 데려갔다. 나는 폐쇄공포증이 있으니 그 밀실과 같은 방에는 못 있겠다고 했으나 아무도 아랑곳하지 않았다. 그들은 몇시간 동안 질문을 해댔고, 나의 소지품들을 일일이 몇번이나 수색했다. 그날밤 나를 공항에 억류했고, 나는 긴 의자에서 잠을 자야 했다. 다음 날 몇 시간을 기다린 끝에 한 직원이 들어와 다시 여러 시간 동안 심문을 해댔다.
변호사는 물론, 통역사도 제공되지 않았고, 그 상황속에서 출입국 사무직원들이 이끄는데로 많은 결정이 내려졌다. 그들이 내게 한국으로 다시 돌려보내겠다고 할때, 나는 아버지의 학대를 피해 미국으로 왔으니 한국으로 돌아가고 싶지 않다고 대답했고, 그들은 그러면 망명신청을 하라고 일러주었다. 나는 망명신청을 했을 경우 어떤 상황들이 수반되는지 잘 알지 못했지만 그렇게 하기로 했다. 그 결과 나는 수용소로 보내졌다. 나는 수용소에 억류되기 보다는 인도적 차원에서 주어지는 가석방을 받았어야 했는데, 트럼프 정부가 들어서면서 나와 비슷한 처지에 있는 사람들이 거진 다 구속되고 있는 추세라는 것을 한참 후에 변호사를 통해 알게 되었다.
처음에 수용된 곳은 켈리포니아 리치몬드시에 위치해 있었는데, 그 곳 간부들은 내가 도움을 요청했을때 도움을 주기는 커녕 오히려 나를 독방에 가두겠다고 위협했다. 그 후로 한동안 누구하고도 얘기하고 싶지 않았다, 적어도 수용소에 직접 방문하시는 한 미국인 변호사가 엠네스티 인터내셔널에서 일하는 미주 한국인 두분을 소개해 주실때 까지는. 그리고 그 두분들을 통해 센프란시스코에 있는 아시안여성의쉼터를 알게 되었고 그 곳에서 일하시는 분들의 방문과 도움을 받게 되었다.
하지만 세달 정도 지난 후 나를 (LA 에서 3시간 정도; 샌프란시스코에서는 5시간 정도 떨어진) 베이커스필드에 있는 “메사베르데” 수용소로 이동시켰다. 그 곳은 사기업에 의해 운영되는 이민자 소용소이다. 그곳으로 옮겨지던 날 나는 새벽 4시 반 부터 이동 준비를 강요 받았고 하루종일 여기 저기로 운송되었다. 나를 태운 이동차는 밴 종류 차량이었는데 창문이 없는 밀폐된 공간이어서 나의 폐쇄공포증 증세를 유발시켰다. 다른 억류자들을 이곳 저곳에서 태우면서 차문이 열릴 때는 그나마 숨을 쉴 수 있었다. 그러나, 물과 음식도 없이, 그리고 화장실 갈 시간도 갖지 못한채 마지막 몇시간 동안을 그 차 안에서 목적지에 도착할 때까지 있어야 했다. 차안의 온도는 칠월의 태양열로 뜨겁게 달아올랐고, 나는 숨막힘과 동시에 폐쇄공포증으로 인한 구토와 열에 시달렸고, 다른 수감 여성들도 다들 울면서 도움을 요청하는 소리를 질렀다. 엘 살바도르에서 온 한 분은 격한 발작증세를 보였고 한 중국 여성은 여러 시간 동안 구토를 해댔다. 그럼에도 불구하고 아무런 조처도 취해지지 않았다. 나는 마침내 의식을 잃었다.
메사베르데 수용소에는 현재 대략 이백명의 여성 억류자분들이 계시고, 그 중 열 다섯 혹은 열 여섯명 정도의 아시아 여성들이 있지만, 한국인은 나 혼자뿐이다. 직원들과 경비원들은 북한과 남한 사회의 차이를 이해하지 못하며 한국인을 중국인으로 가정하는 일이 흔하다. 또한, 한국과 미국의 문화적 차이가 너무 커서, 비록 내가 한국어 통역이 가능한 사람을 찾는다 해도, 내가 이야기 하는것을 적절한 영어로 옮기고 이해시킬 수 있을 것 같지 않아 두려웠다. 예를 들어, “주민등록번호” 혹은 “종가” 라는 말들이 어떻게 영어로 변역되고 이해될수 있겠는가? 언어의 차이뿐만 아니라 행동과 몸짓 하나도 문화적 차이에 의해 오해를 불러 일으킬 수 있다.
나는 간염을 앓아 왔고 또 다른 질병들에 의해 고통과 불편함에 시달려 왔다. 하지만 수용소 안에서는 적절한 의료서비스를 받을 수 없다. 게다가, 두통, 감기, 열 등의 다른 증상들에 쓰는 약들이 다 간염을 악화시킬 수 있기에 나는 복용할 수 없다. 수용소 음식도 견딜 수 없을 정도로 형편 없다. 양이 정말 적은 것도 문제지만 야채는 너무 오래돼 냄새가 나고 거진 녹아있는 상태다.
수용소 직원들은 수감원들에게 종종 소리를 지르고 인종차별과 조롱, 그리고 성희롱를 일삼는다. 내가 환경개선을 해 달라는 요구를 함으로 인해 그들은 나를 표적으로 삼았고, 나를 “북한 노예”라 부르며 또 벌레에 비유하기도 했다.
의료진들도 마찬가지다. 한 의사는 내가 진료를 거부했음에도 불구하고 내 몸을 만졌고, 특히 내 가슴 부위를 만졌다. 한번은 내가 왼손을 다쳐 붕대를 감고 있었는데, 한 직원이 오더니 그 붕대를 풀게 하고, 두 손을 맞 잡게 하더니 아픈 왼손과 멀쩡한 오른손을 함께 수갑을 채우듯이 붕대를 감아버리고는 깔깔거리고 웃었다. 그에게는 웃기는 일이었는지 모르나 나에게는 굴욕적인 시간이었다. 한 사람은 내게 한국 여성답게 순종적 태도를 가지라 했다. 한국여성에 대한 잘못된 고정 관념을 가지고 나에게 양보를 강요했다.
여기 수용소에는 사회복지사 분들이 일주일에 한번씩 억류되어있는 사람들을 찾아와 사무관이 못됐게 구는 일이 있는지 살핀다. 그들은 대부분 친절하고 수감자들의 생활이 어떠한지에 대해 대화하려 한다. 하지만 계속해서 내가 중요한 사람이 아님을 주입시키고 아무도 내가 여기에 억류되어 있음을 신경쓰지도 않을 것이라고 말하면서 나의 사기를 저하시킨다.
수용소 생활을 한지 일곱달이 넘어간다. 내가 어떻게 취급받았는가를 생각해 볼 때, 미국의 방침이 인종차별을 넘어선 “인종말살” 이라고 나는 생각한다. 나는 이 나라를 대상으로 어떠한 범죄도 저지르지 않았고 한국에 있을때 시민으로서 정상적 생활을 해왔다. 우리 조상 중 대한민국정부 건설에 직접 참여한 당사자들도 있다. 더욱이 나는 안전과 보호를 청하기 위해 여기에 왔다. 그런데 미국은 나의 권리를 훼손하고 쓰레기 버리듯 취급하고 있다. 이러한 수용소 생활은 전쟁 수용소 생활과 전혀 다름이 없다고 나는 생각한다.
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
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