Marissa Alexander is a survivor of domestic violence from Jacksonville, FL who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for defending herself from violence.
National action: Urge the State to Drop the Case!
Have you heard the good news out of Florida? The Appeals Court threw out the guilty verdict in the Marissa Alexander case, citing a “fundamental error” in the jury instructions which unjustly required Marissa to prove her innocence, depriving her of a fair trial. In mid-October, State Prosecutor Angela Corey will decide whether to drop the case or set a new trial date. We say drop the case!
October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month – a perfect time to draw attention to how Marissa’s experience of domestic violence and incarceration exemplifies the widespread racial and gender bias in our criminal justice system.
We are asking you to send letters and/or call Angela Corey and encourage her to seek Justice, not a Conviction! Please send copies of your message to Attorney General Pam Bondi and Governor Rick Scott so that they know the strength of public opinion on this issue.
The sample letter below may help you get started.
SAMPLE LETTER (download as pdf!):
Dear Ms. Corey:
You have an opportunity to allow an innocent person to go free without further cost to the state of Florida and without further trauma to this woman and her family. I encourage you to drop the charges against Marissa Alexander, rather than pursuing a new trial which, if justice is served, will result in a not-guilty verdict.
Marissa Alexander was a victim of domestic violence who acted in self-defense by taking the only action she saw possible at that moment – an action that injured no one. Her case shines a light on how black women in domestic violence situations are often doubly victimized when they seek justice. Ms. Alexander has experienced at least two traumatic events: the first is being repeatedly abused by her husband, the second is being prosecuted and sentenced to prison for defending herself from that abuse.
Ms. Alexander’s experience bears out the fact that women of color are arrested more often than white women when police arrive on the scene of a domestic violence incident. For this reason, fewer than 17% of black women call the police for fear they will be further victimized by the police or the courts. By allowing Marissa Alexander to be sentenced to 20 years for self-defense, you have given the message to women everywhere that if they defend their lives, they will be also targeted by police and prosecutors.
There is a widespread stereotype that survivors who fight for their lives, particularly if they are black women, are “too aggressive” and not genuine victims. This stereotype was carried out to such an extent in Marissa Alexander’s case that the whole premise of innocent until proven guilty was reversed, as the Appeals Court found. Please do the right thing by stopping any further prosecution of this innocent mother and daughter.
Drop the case, dismiss all charges, and free Marissa Alexander!
Send your letter to the following addresses:
(Hard copies make more of an impact!)
Angela Corey, State Attorney
220 East Bay Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Phone: 850-414-3300 or 850-414-3990
Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Phone: 850-717-9337 or 850-488-7146