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!"
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