Domestic violence is rampant in the United States. Thousands of women are incarcerated, often for life, for killing a partner that threatened their lives or the lives of their children. And today, these women are trapped behind bars because the only way to protect themselves was by killing their abusers.
A California state prison study found that 93% of the women who had killed their significant others had been battered by them; 67% of these women indicated the homicide resulted from an attempt to protect themselves or their children. These numbers are staggering and sobering.
“From behind prison walls, ‘Sin by Silence’ reveals the lives of extraordinary women who advocate for a future free from domestic violence.”
California Assemblymember, Fiona Ma is spearheading change for many of these women incarcerated and feels that women who have defended their lives or the lives of their children from abuse should have this chance to to submit a petition for writ of habeas corpus. In 2002, the Legislature passes SB 799 allowing these petitions. As a result of the passing of this bill, nearly 30 women have been released when the court re-examined their case and concluded that there was enough evidence of abuse to justify the crime. However, there are still over 50 women whose cases have not been examined.
AB 593 is being presented so that these women can have their cases reviewed and will also allow them legal representation. This bill will cover more details of their case presented as many of these cases did not have sufficient expert testimony during their original trial. New laws have been put in place that can help these survivors of abuse get released from prison to go home to their children, grandchildren, sisters and friends.
In 1989 several incarcerated women inside of The California Institute for Women, formed Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA) to help women break the silence about abuse and how they can help others stop the cycle of violence.
This group of women who are the CWAA are helping to educate the people involved in the complex system of domestic abuse and violence. Through letter writing campaigns, senate hearings, media coverage and word of mouth, a movement was born – and as a result the passing of the original SB 799.
The Documentary video “Sin by Silence” portrays the lives of several of these women and how they continue to help empower women of domestic violence and help to change the tragedy, all the way around, of domestic violence.
If you would like to help women in prison who are survivors of domestic violence, please read more here on a few simple ways that can make their lives better.
Please watch a trailer on the film, “Sin by Silence.”
If you would like to learn more about AB 593 and how you can help with this legislation, please read more here.