Marissa Alexander Granted New Trial But Remains in Prison

Mandatory MinimumsOne has to wonder if recent developments in the Trayvon Martin case and subsequent trial of George Zimmerman have prompted a review of the Marissa Alexander case. The young black woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a warning shot – which neither killed nor injured anyone – has now been granted a new trial in Florida. But, is this too little too late?

Prosecuting attorney, Angela Corey, has refused to drop the case against Alexander who fired the weapon to threaten her abusive husband, Rico Gray. At the time, she was returning to her home to collect her things after having a child nine days earlier. She had a restraining order against Gray and felt afraid for her life. When she and her husband had a confrontation in front of her children, she went and retrieved a gun to defend herself. Because she left the scene and returned, Alexander was unable to fulfill Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Had she killed Gray, she likely would have been a free woman today. Because of her conviction, Alexander was sentenced to a minimum sentence of 20 years. Even though her husband admitted to previously abusing her, Corey believes that the court proceedings were legitimate given that she could have hurt someone when she discharged the weapon. Interesting right?

Angela Corey was also the prosecuting attorney in the George Zimmerman case. He walked away with not one smudge on his record. So, she was able to convict a mother of three in an abusive relationship who killed and injured no one with a 20 year sentence but she could not get Zimmerman a day in prison after he actually killed a teenaged boy? Sounds like someone needs to reassess their career choices. Something is truly broken in our justice system when a mother of three (one of them being a newborn) is sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a bullet and harming no one in the process. Not only that, she had a documented history of being abused. And, we imprison her? It only took the jury 12 minutes to ruin her and her children’s lives while her abusive husband got to have the freedom and liberty he never deserved.Marissa-Alexander-sentenced-water-cooler-convos

When one examines the Zimmerman Case versus the Alexander Case, it is befuddling how the two outcomes were so clearly reversed. The minimum sentencing laws in Florida seem egregious and excessive especially when one reviews the details of cases like these. Alexander will remain in prison for the foreseeable future as Corey refuses to modify charges and opposes bail for Alexander who hasn’t been with her children in three years. She has vowed to “pursue justice” in this case (whatever she thinks that is at least). Meanwhile, many have pointed to obvious racial issues in the adjudication of these cases.

Can one logically assume that Alexander’s status is partially attributable to her race? Certainly.

According to Sarah Childress of Frontline:

“Roman also found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.”

SYG-Water-Cooler-ConvosThe graph shows that whites have a much higher likelihood to have their murders deemed justifiable when committed against black people. And, black on black murders have almost a net zero likelihood of being deemed justifiable. The most telling finding here is that there is a negative or inverse relationship between black on white murder and justifiability. In other words, no matter what the scenario, blacks who kill whites have a negative likelihood that their acts will be deemed justifiable. Seems racist right? Well, that’s because it is. It’s also because white people are blameless and black people are scary.

Really, Marissa Alexander never stood a chance. The American justice system is biased beyond belief. There is a bit of hope in her new trial. We will all be watching to see that justice is upheld this time around.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.