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Battered Women in Prison

Every fifteen seconds a woman in the U.S. is beaten. One California state prison study found that 93 percent of women who had killed their mates had been battered by them. There are approximately 650 women in California state prisons for killing their abusers.

The California Coalition for Battered Women in Prison was formed in August of 1991 by progressive legal and community groups. Volunteer lawyers, community organizations, prison reform activists and others participate in reaching the goals of the Coalition. As part of a growing national movement aimed at bringing justice to battered women, the Coalition commits itself to assisting women in California who have been convicted of fighting back against their abusive partners, and whose claims of self defense have been largely ignored. The Coalition has filed 21 clemency petitions so far on behalf of women who believe their killings were in self defense or were the only way they could have escaped from a long-term abusive relationship. In one case, a woman was beaten by her spouse for 48 years.

Many battered women in California were convicted before courts recognized the relevance of Battered Women's Syndrome evidence. It was not until January 1st, 1992, that the California Legislature passed a law acknowledging the importance of Battered Women's Syndrome testimony. There is little education provided to juries, judges, attorneys or the public about battering, its effects, and its results.

These women have been abused twice: once by their abusive partners and now by the legal system. To find out how you can help, or to obtain more information, contact:
California Coalition for Battered Women in Prison - LSPC
1535 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

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