State & Private Violence

Where Abolition Meets Action: Women Organizing Against Gender Violence
by Victoria Law

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The last decade has seen a growing movement toward abolishing prisons. At the same time, antiviolence organizers have called on prison abolitionists to take the issue of gender violence seriously and to develop initiatives to address it in the context of prison abolition. Fueled by increasing recognition that women of color, immigrant, queer, transgender, poor, and other marginalized women are often further brutalized – rather than protected – by the police, grassroots groups, and activists throughout the world, are organizing community alternatives to calling 911. Such initiatives, however, are not new. Throughout history, women have acted and organized to ensure their own and their loved ones’ safety. This article, which originally appeared in the journal Contemporary Justice Review, examines both past and present models of women’s community self-defense practices against interpersonal violence. 

Incarcerated women trading their abusers are swept under the judicial carpet to perish
by Linda Michael

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Linda Michael shares her story about being battered and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of her abusive husband. 


Are Girls Getting Tougher, or Are We Tougher on Girls?
by Meda Chesney-Lind

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Girls suspected or convicted of assaults make up an increasing proportion of juvenile arrests and court caseloads. There is indication that changes in domestic violence arrest policies, school handling of student rules infractions, and practices of charging youth for assaults rather than status offenses account for these trends. To determine whether girls were treated more harshly for assaults after these policies changed, the present study compared the probabilities of conviction and institutionalization, net of the effect of self-reported attacks on persons, for 1980 and 2000.


Community and Resistance: Katrina, Jena Six and Prisoner Justice
by Victoria Law

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A panel discussion with journalists and community organizers Jordan Flaherty, Jesse Muhammad, and Victoria Law.

The Harassment Continues
by Barrilee Bannister

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Barilee Bannister shares her experience of sexual harassment by a guard at the prison, including retaliation for her use of the grievance procedure.

A Case of Battered Justice: Theresa Cruz fighting Domestic Violence and State Violence
by Diana Block

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This article is a story about Theresa Cruz, a woman who was sentenced to seven years to life after allegedly planning the murder of a man who had abused and stalked her for five years. Cruz’s case is reviewed and for a short period of time she is released, only to be placed back into prison two weeks later. Cruz’s experience is an example of what many battered women have had to face in challenging the law.

Silent Rage
by Patricia Wright

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Patricia tells how she survived domestic violence in her marriage and then was later convicted of hiring someone to kill her ex-husband.

Fight for Clemency for Women in Prison for Defending Themselves Against an Abuser
by Michelle VanNatta and Margaret Byrne

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The Illinois Clemency Project for Battered Women, was a project made up of prisoners, law students, lawyers, and feminists, who assisted imprisoned women with requesting and fighting for clemency within the state of Illinois.

Girl-on-Girl Violence Hearing Testimony
by Laurie Schaffner

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In this article, created as testimony for hearings into the “problem of girl-on-girl violence” held in Chicago, Schaffner challenges the idea of rising violence among girls and makes concrete suggestions about ways we can support girls.

Illegal Strip Searches at the Cook County Jail
by Tori Marlan

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Marlan, a journalist for the Chicago Reader, investigates the recent successful lawsuit against the Cook County Sheriff for conducting group strip searches of women in the Cook County Jail.

Surviving Solitary
by Laura Whitehorn

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Laura Whitehorn wrote this letter in March 1997 as a part of a packet for the National Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons, discussing the tactics she used to survive in a control unit.