Marissa Alexander Is a Free Woman!

9960065315_ec52c041c3-300x225Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman who spent the last three years behind bars for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband, has finally been released from prison. She will spend the next two years under house arrest with a GPS monitor on her ankle. This brings a bittersweet end to an embroilment that started in 2012 when Alexander was given a 20-year sentence.

In a plea deal last year, she pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault in exchange for a reduced three-year sentence. Since she had already served 1,030 days, that meant she would be eligible for release yesterday.

The criminal case rallied anti-domestic violence activists and brought increased national attention to the Stand Your Ground law, which she unsuccessfully invoked in her defense. Florida’s legal system drew much criticism from social-justice advocates for what they believe was an inconsistent application of Stand Your Ground, which had an effect on the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Alexander’s trial served to highlight how the justice system is often biased against defendants of color, with Blacks more likely to be convicted and have longer prison stays.

Her estranged husband, who was not injured in the incident, had already been arrested twice for domestic battery and was on probation.

As she walked out of the courthouse, she read a prepared statement in front of a crowd of supporters:

My family and I will be able to move on with our lives. Although the journey has been long and there’s been many difficult moments, I could not have arrived here, where I am today, without the thoughts, many thoughts and many prayers of so many people who voiced their support and encouragement. Words can never express my gratitude for those who stood beside me, including my children and family.

Photo of Marissa Alexander from Flickr user Abayomi Azikiwe under license from Creative Commons 2.0.


Associate editor of Ms. magazine