Tondalao Hall spent 13th New Year’s Day within a prison cell this past month. The man who mistreated her and her young children never served a single day in prison. The particulars of Hall’s narrative speak volumes about criminal havoc from the nation today.
Thirteen decades back, Tondalao Hall’s ex-boyfriend and abuser, Robert Braxton Jr., pleaded guilty for breaking up the ribs and femur of their 3-month-old daughter. Hall had not abused her children. She was also a victim of her ex’s violence. Prosecutors introduced no proof that Hall, then 19 years old, knew of any abuse against her children. On the help of her original lawyer, Hall signed a “blind” guilty plea — meaning, a plea with no deal with the prosecutor promising leniency. That plea resulted in a 30-year sentence for “failing to protect” her children against abuse.
Hall’s sentence violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from giving out cruel and unusual punishments to people convicted of crimes, in two ways. To begin with, her sentence is disproportionate for her crime in regard to Braxton’s light paragraph. Secondly, it lacks some consideration of the abuse she suffered and the decisions she had been made to make as a result.
In a cruel coincidence, Braxton was released from custody on exactly the same day Hall had been told she’d serve 30 years at a maximum security prison. After eight decades of probation, he resides with minimal consequences due to his brutal crimes.
The ACLU of Oklahoma is representing Hall and seeking her release since she has been mistreated and denied justice. Her anguish mirrors that of so many women of colour who’ve been the topic of unfair prosecution.
As a part of pervasive and horrifying abuse, Hall desperately needed the nation’s defense and social networking. Rather than protecting her and providing these solutions, the court stripped her of her liberty and her loved ones.
So what makes it possible for a mom to be sent to prison for someone else’s abuse of her children?
Oklahoma is one of 29 countries that makes “allowing child abuse” a crime. Oklahoma’s statute was created to make certain that people who witness abuse take actions to prevent further abuse. The statue is supposed to encourage people to record crimes against children. In Hall’s case, the regulation was used not to shield children but to criminalize and punish a domestic violence survivor.
It is a mockery of justice to claim Hall’s sentence shielded any of the children Braxton abused. In fact, each survivor of Braxton’s abuse has suffered tremendously as a result of the prosecution. Hall’s three children have been left to develop with no mother, although their abusive father signed away his parental rights. That May, Hall’s oldest child will graduate from high school while his mother remains locked away from her loved ones.
Oklahoma incarcerates more women per capita than anyplace else on earth. Oklahoma imprisons approximately 151 out of every 100,000 women, that is roughly twice the national average. The nation’s harsh legislation and other “hard on crime” forms of over-prosecution disproportionately affect women of color. Native and Black ladies compose a combined 16.7 percentage of Oklahoma’s population, but 33% of the prison population.
Oklahoma also ranks among the best five countries for women enduring intense violence from their spouses. Survivors of the abuse are overrepresented from jails and prisons. Over half of women incarcerated in Oklahoma are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. Rather than address this problem through preventive services, district attorneys and lawmakers in Oklahoma have utilized the statute which landed Hall to criminalize moms enduring abuse, injury, and adversity.
In the time she was detained, she’d been actively creating a plan to leave her migraines. But skipping a violent spouse is significantly easier said than done, as the likelihood of severe murder or violence skyrockets when sufferers make moves to depart. So long as Hall’s abuser walks, some claim that her sentence had been about justice or protecting children rings hollow.
The ACLU of Oklahoma filed an application for relief today in Oklahoma County, under a post-conviction procedure that may see Hall freed. We would like to end this nightmare for Hall. At exactly the same time, achievement in this case would also cause valid precedent for courts to grant greater weight to evidence of abuse, which might help safeguard other abuse victims in Oklahoma’s justice program.