Incarcerated Women Trading Their Abusers are Swept Under the Judicial Carpet to Perish
by Linda Michael

My name is Linda Michael a 56-year-old battered woman who has been incarcerated for over 2 decades. Convicted of second degree homicide of her recently divorced abusive husband of 20 years. Sentenced to life without parole.

In December of 1998, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles noted for his compassionate release of over 36 women granted Linda’s executive clemency for battered women. Sadly three days later he passed away before Linda could be released. Lieutenant governor Tom McKay was sworn into office temporarily and signed Linda’s executive order for release. The first week of January 1999, newly elected Governor Jeb Bush began his term in office and refused to honor the prior administrations executive order. The darkness of emotional trauma almost destroyed my family and I. Yet, hope pulled us together once again.

In 2006, the 11th District Federal Court of appeals in Atlanta Georgia denied habeas corpus relief, finding ''post traumatic stress disorder evidence was not accepted in Florida." My family’s last vestiges of hope died. This ruling also resulted in judicial death for battered women convicted prior to 1994 who were swept under the carpet to die. In 1994 the Florida supreme court at last recognized the evidence albeit too late.

Today my estranged children are in their thirties. My son is a known abuser and alcoholic. My daughter is a drug addict. My grandson, whom I've never seen, has been in and out of D.F.S. custody. Last year he attacked and stabbed his school teacher and was committed to a psychiatric unit. All because in 1990 the court granted my abusive alcoholic in-laws custody of my precious children. I pleaded with the court but to no avail. The courts decision was firm ''it’s in the best interest of the children.'' Little did they know at the time they would destroy my children.

Last year I was the victim of a hate crime in prison. I was attacked and beaten by two known violent Indian inmates. My only offense was that I was White. What was done to my assailants? Nothing. Whether in the free world or prison we are only trading abusers. Once again I was told to “shut up this is prison.'' I filed in a pro se civil rights complaint against the prison authorities seeking injunctions to stop the abuse, where staff violate their own policy and procedures effecting prisoners rights and safety.

I’ve been told to ''shut up” for over 40 years. I cannot afford to remain silent. I'm only one tiny voice who cries out to the free world for judicial and prison reform. To mend the tattered and torn fabric of Americas families, albeit too late to save my own family.

Prison is not the solution, but the problem. Don't let the system beat you down. I encourage you to be proactive; the system cannot steal your voice. America’s streets are paved with the broken spirits of prisoners and their families. Sadly, America is known as the ''slave masters of the world''. A title every American who dwells in the land of the free should be ashamed of.

Linda Michael