black women

Bad News for Marissa Alexander

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Marissa Alexander, the woman who was given 20 years in prison for a warning shot against her abusive husband, has received some bad news.

Judge James Daniel not only denied bail for the woman, he also put off Alexander’s motion for a bond hearing until January 15, 2014. Alexander will have to wait two months to learn if she will be granted bond before her retrial.

The state’s argument is that there was no new evidence in the case, meaning that bail was not necessary for her case. Rather than making a decision about bail, the judge decided to avoid the decision altogether, keeping Alexander behind bars.

Alexander has continued to proclaim her innocence and  said that she only fired the gun in self-defense.   Alexander says that her ex-husband, Rico Gray, had a history of abuse, and that she was using the gun to defend herself.

Part of the reason for Alexander’s sentence is that her two sons were in the room when she fired at her husband, leading the court to declare that she’d put them in danger.

Alexander did win a major victory by getting the state to give her a new trial in March 13, 2014.  Advocates are claiming that her sentence was excessive, particularly given that it occurred at the same time, in the same state, that George Zimmerman was acquitted after admittedly killing an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, who advocates for equity in the criminal justice system, says that the Alexander case is typical.

“This case shows us two things,” says Dr. Watkins, who worked with Russell Simmons to get 175 celebrities to sign a letter to President Obama about mass incarceration. “First, it shows that black people are not given justice in this system.  Secondly, it shows that we still do not take domestic violence seriously in this country and millions of women are harmed as a result.”