California Battered Women Denied Parole
Thursday, August 2, 2007 11:24 AM

In many ways, California is a model for the defense of battered women.  It is one of only a few states that allows women on trial for the murder of their abuser to present expert testimony on the effects of battery.  Furthermore, it is the only state that has provided a system, called the California Habeas Project, allowing women who were incarcerated before this testimony was allowed to be retried and introduce such evidence.  As a result, nineteen women have been released from prison in five years.

However, many convicted abused women are being kept in jail even after being granted parole.  In California, the governor has the authority to overrule the parole board for first- or second-degree murder convicts.  One woman has been granted parole six times, once every year for the past six years.  The victim’s mother and sister, as well as the judge who convicted her, all believe she should be paroled.  However, each time the governor of California, first Gray Davis and now Arnold Schwarzenegger, have denied her parole.  Another woman was granted parole twice by the parole board, only to be denied by Governor Schwarzenegger both times.  Instead, she prevailed upon the Habeas Project and was released for time served.  (To read more about her story, click here.)  Opponents of the governors’ actions believe this is a purely political move designed to gain the approval of the powerful correction officers’ union.  In 2006, not one battered woman was paroled in California.

Compiled from: "California's Parole System Abuses Battered Women," Women's eNews, 1 August 2007.