Dear Prosecutors Watkins and Elkins,
As a legal professional, I am disappointed and frustrated with the ways our criminal legal system treats people who look like me. District attorneys have the discretion and power to bring forth charges. However, charges should reflect the benefit of the greater society, the harmed communities, and the effected family and friends. Who does it serve when a 15 year old child is charged for defending herself and her family from their abuser?
One of the most difficult things is being a abused by someone who is supposed to protect and love you. There is nothing more traumatizing than a child living in an abusive home. The home serves as a safe space but a home cannot be safe if the structures in place do not also protect the home. When black girls and black women find no solace or protection the systems, they have to find ways to survive.
There is decades of research that displays the affects of abuse on women and children. Bresha and abused black girls have the right to defend themselves when those close to them and the systems that they live in fail them. As an advocate of justice, arresting and charging Bresha is not justice. Who does it serve if a 15 year old abused child is behind bars? What does that say about the society we live in when victims are criminalized rather than provided with the resources and protection to thrive?
So many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault end up in the criminal legal system. According to the correctional association of New York,
“The overwhelming majority of women in prison are survivors of domestic violence. Additionally, three-quarters have histories of severe physical abuse by an intimate partner during adulthood, and 82% suffered serious physical or sexual abuse as children.”
So I ask the question again. Who are we protecting? Who are we criminalizing? What does justice look like when the majority of women and girls in jail are victims of abuse? What purpose does it serve society when children are incarcerated?
The United States incarcerates more children than any other country. Is this what justice looks like? Is this what investment in our children and our future looks like? Bresha should not be punished for surviving abuse. Bresha should not be punished for protecting herself and her family.
Justice looks like dropping charges against Bresha and allowing her and her family to heal from years of abuse. I support Bresha because I believe in investing in our future and creating a society where children can experience joy free from violence. Bresha deserves better and you have the choice to change that.
Nnennaya Amuchie , JD/MBA