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Lake County Sentinel
Clemency for battered women in Ohio's prisons
Opinion by Melissa Martin
Kill or be killed. "On the night he died, after a day of heavy drinking, Andrew Harris sexually and verbally assaulted Mia. When the abuse became physical, Mia told Andrew "No," and told him to leave her home. Instead, he cut her. When she tried to escape, he strangled her until she passed out. Before she passed out, she was able to 
grab a knife and stabbed him with it. When she awoke, Andrew continued beating her, and poured hot sauce in her eyes. Mia swung the knife at Andrew to keep him away, causing 22 wounds over his body. One cut sliced Andrew's femoral artery behind his knee causing him bleed to death." www.ohiojpc.org.

Approximately 4,500 battered women in the US are incarcerated for defending their lives or the lives of their children against batterers. Ninety-three percent of women who kill their intimate partner do so as a result of domestic violence. Was it self-defense?

Battered Women in Ohio Prisons

The Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) advocates for the release of incarcerated victims of domestic violence by way of parole from the Parole Board or clemency from the Ohio Governor. In January of 2019, Gov. John Kasich granted the clemency request of one OJPC client. Thomia (Mia) Hunter was incarcerated in the Ohio Reformatory for Women for 15 years after she killed her abusive ex-boyfriend in self-defense.

A 2019 article by WPCO in Cincinnati pointed out, "The Ohio Parole Board had recommended the Cleveland woman's sentence be commuted after it found the issue of her abusive ex-boyfriend never came up at her trial."

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, "Executive Clemency is an act of mercy or leniency from certain consequences of a criminal conviction, and is exercised by the Governor after receipt of a recommendation from the Parole Board. Clemency can be in the form of a pardon, commutation, or reprieve."

In 1990, Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste granted clemency to 25 women who had been convicted of killing or assaulting husbands or companions due to domestic violence. These women were victims of battered-woman syndrome.

Linda Ammons' article entitled, "Why Do You Do The Things You Do? Clemency for Battered Incarcerated Women, A Decade's Review" was published in the American University Journal of Gender Social Policy and Law (2003). Gov. Celeste assigned Ammons the responsibility of reviewing cases and making clemency recommendations to him concerning battered incarcerated women in Ohio prisons who claimed they killed their abusers in self-defense. Ammons reported the released women "have a zero percent recidivism rate for committing a similar felony murder" as of 2003 when she wrote the article.

"The battered woman syndrome (BWS) expands the concept of legal self-defense. This defense holds that a battered woman is virtually held hostage in a violent household by a man who isolates and terrorizes her, convincing her that if she leaves he will track her down and kill her," according to a 1996 article on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website. Lenore Walker is the psychologist who coined the term "Battered Woman Syndrome" in the 1970's.

A 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that domestic violence is a major source of death for women.

Of the total domestic violence homicides, about 75 percent of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship had ended. www.domesticabuseshelter.org.


The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women (NCDBW) was founded in 1987 to work for justice for victims of battering charged with crimes where a history of abuse is relevant to their legal claim or defense.

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network advances the principles that all people have the right to an oppression and violence free life; fosters changes in our economic, social and political systems; and brings leadership, expertise and best practices to community programs.

October is recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In October 1987, the first national Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held. In conjunction, the same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989, Congress passed the first DVAM commemorative legislation and it has been passed every year since. 
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.
or melissamartincounselor@live.com Follow us on Twitter @LCSentinelcom 
POSTED 10/22/2019 19:11