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By: Leslie Salzillo

Battered mother, Marissa Alexander, finally free 
from prison after 3 years - for defending her life


We've been following the Marissa Alexander case for two years, and I am extremely happy to post this press release from the Free Marissa Now folks. It's not a perfect ending, but it's close enough for now. Marissa can go home to be with her children - and start a new life.


Supporters of Marissa Alexander in Jacksonville, across the US, and all around the world are overjoyed that Alexander has been released from jail after serving 3 years behind bars for defending her life.  In 2010, Alexander, a black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida, was forced to defend her life from a life-threatening attack by her estranged husband by firing a single warning shot that caused no injuries. State Prosecutor Angela Corey prosecuted Alexander, pursuing a 60-year mandatory minimum sentence.  On November 24, 2014, Alexander accepted a plea deal that included time served of nearly 3 years in prison, 65 additional days in the Duval County jail, and 2 years of probation while under home detention.  Today marks the end of her time behind bars.


“We are thrilled that Marissa will finally be reunited with her children, her family, and her community,” said Sumayya Coleman, co-lead of the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign.  “Today’s hearing revealed that Marissa intends to attend school to become a paralegal and she is a wonderful mother to her children who urgently need her. Amazingly, the State continued their campaign of punishment by trying to add two more years of probation. Fortunately, they failed, and Marissa will be released today!  Marissa and her family will need time to begin recovering from this arduous and traumatic experience.  It’s been a long and painful journey and, though her release from jail is definitely a win - no 60 years, the journey of seeking ultimate freedom is not over.  Marissa will be forced to be on strict home detention while being under surveillance for two years.  This is by no means freedom in the sense we feel she deserves. Our next agenda is to seek full restoration for Marissa and her family, including the expunging of her so-called criminal record, and a systemic transformation that prevents black women and all survivors of domestic violence from experiencing the hostile and brutal treatment from policing, prosecution, and prison systems that Marissa has endured.  We will push for improved legislation and monitoring of systems that penalize victims of domestic violence who choose to save their lives by force. This is by no means a conclusion.”


Alexander will be forced to wear and pay for a surveillance ankle monitor and forbidden from leaving her home with the exception of attending work, church, her children’s school, and appointments with doctors or the court.  This will effectively “prisonize” her home, as noted by journalist, Maya Schenwar.  This practice of extending a prison culture of surveillance, punishment, and confinement into people’s homes and communities has significantly increased in the U.S., creating what Prof. Beth Richie has described as a “prison nation,” especially for black women.  Coercing probationers to pay for surveillance monitors is also part of the increasing privatization of punishment in the U.S.


Since 2012, the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign has organized to free Alexander from the punishing experience of being prosecuted for self-defense.  Supporters have organized in Jacksonville, across the United States in dozens of cities, and around the world to demand Alexander’s freedom.  Aleta Alston Toure’, co-lead of Free Marissa Now said, “For almost three years, this campaign has raised critical awareness about Alexander’s case, raised much needed donations for her legal defense fund, and raised a movement that takes a stand against mass incarceration and domestic violence.  If this targeting of Marissa had unfolded behind closed doors and without powerful pushback from people who believe in justice, we believe she would still be in prison today.  Organizing matters.”


“It’s hard to summarize the incredible outpouring of rage, love, and commitment to freedom that has arrived from all around the world in solidarity with Marissa Alexander,” said Alisa Bierria, also from Free Marissa Now.  “Hundreds of people have donated, created art and media, and organized direct actions, letter writing sessions, and teach-ins in Jacksonville, Chicago, Berkeley, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, DC, New Orleans, St. Louis, Seattle, Denver, Miami, Canada, Australia, and many other locations.  The dozens of projects that Marissa’s supporters have organized have been creative, brilliant, and impactful.  Together, we have not only helped to ensure Marissa’s release from prison, we have hopefully shown why we must keep addressing the connections between domestic violence, reproductive violence, and state violence. We warmly thank and honor every person who has contributed to this historic freedom movement."


I really couldn't have said it much better than my dedicated, hardworking “Free Marissa Now” friends have above. Fifteen diaries about the case allowed me to share many of my thoughts. The support shown to Marissa Alexander by the Daily Kos community and by so many others, has blown me away.


There is still much work to do for this cause, but right now, I'm going to enjoy this beautiful moment, and think of Marissa being reunited with her children. I imagine they'll all be jumping in their mama's bed tonight. Our love and best wishes are with you and your family, Marissa.

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