Open Letter to the Prosecutors #10

Dear Prosecutors Dennis Watkins and Stanley Elkins

I am writing to you as a social scientist, the daughter of an abusive father and abused mother, and as someone committed to improving our society. How a society treats its most vulnerable members is a clear indication of that society’s health. That is why I implore you to free Bresha Meadows.

Bresha Meadows’ situation lifts up many imperatives where we can and must do better. First, while no communities are immune to domestic violence, those incarcerated for domestic violence are far more likely to Black, Latino, or Native American. Black women and girls are particularly likely to be prosecuted while trying to survive the dangers of being abused. Second, the ‘domestic’ in domestic violence often makes heinous patterns of vulnerability to abuse seem like mere household disputes. Domestic violence means that the victims are in constant threat to their well-being. Victims of abuse can’t simply clock out of a job, spontaneously relocate where they live, or even more complexly, easily ignore the tangles of love and duty when abuse comes from a family member.

And finally, in Bresha Meadows’ case, we are talking about all of the above and a young person. A child. There is not a child of an abused parent who doesn’t know the hyper-vigilance and constant worry that comes from wanting to be able to protect yourself, your parent, and other family members from threat and violence. Adults have their own cell phones, friends, vehicles, and support systems. Young people are often in much more precarious positions. Detaining and incarcerating youth, not to mention children, only leads to high rates of recidivism, mental and physical turmoil, and dislocation from upward social mobility.

There is literally no justice to be served by incarcerating Bresha Meadows. On the contrary, a scant understanding of what incarceration does to the human spirit and body conveys that a different choice must be made here, and you have the power to make it. Bresha Meadows had the bravery to fight for her own life, and that of her family members. Please do right by her, beginning by freeing her.

My own story testifies to the more palatable outcomes that can happen after emerging from an abusive home. I live a relatively balanced, healthy, and safe life as an adult. And I never, for one minute, forget the highly unlikely statistic reality this is for most girls, particularly girls of color. I ask you to give Bresha Meadows that literal chance at life.


Leigh Patel
Jamaica Plain, MA


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