Statement on Another Postponement of Bresha’s Preliminary Hearing

We were anxiously awaiting Bresha Meadows’s preliminary hearing scheduled for today. We had hoped that she might be released. Her original hearing date was supposed to be October 6th 2016. It was postponed to today. Yesterday, we heard that the hearing was postponed again this time to January 20th 2017. As of today, Bresha has already spent 117 days in jail. By the time, January 20th comes around she will have spent over 175 days in a cell. This is truly unconscionable and we are furious. Bresha should NOT have to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas away from her family in a jail cell. Bresha should be home for the holidays.

Bresha was just 14 years old when she was incarcerated for an aggravated murder charge for defending herself and her family against the unrelenting terror and abuse of her father. Bresha, her mother, Brandi Meadows, and her siblings endured years of her father’s frequent physical beatings and death threats. Bresha Meadows attempted to seek help from the police, only to be turned away with no support or options. Rather than support Bresha with resources to recover from her experience of extensive violence, prosecutors continue to punish and incarcerate her for defending her life.

Over 100 anti-domestic violence organizations have endorsed the call to drop the charges against Bresha Meadows, including the National Resource on Domestic Violence, National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, and The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health.

Bresha Meadows’ supporters in Warren, OH and across the country say that prosecutors’ refusal to release Bresha from detention after 117 days behind bars is a continuation of the state’s appalling failure to support a black child who is a victim of domestic violence. They demand that prosecutors free Bresha Meadows and drop all charges against her immediately.  “Prosecutors have made this traumatic situation so much worse,” said Mariame Kaba of the #FreeBresha campaign. “Separating Bresha from her family, isolating and punishing her for defending her life and her family, ultimately led her to be put under suicide watch while in detention. Her case represents a major systems failure in Ohio that continues to seriously endanger her life. Where is the commitment to supporting rather than criminalizing survivors of violence? Black girls’ lives are worth defending.”

Studies have shown that juvenile detention undermines the health and well-being of child inmates. In a 2015 study, the Human Rights Project for Girls found that juvenile detention can re-traumatize girls, and some incarcerated girls report that they experience abuse while inside detention.

We urge supporters to contribute to an ongoing fundraiser to provide resources for Bresha’s family to cover their daily expenses. They need our support now more than ever. Donations can be made here.

Follow @freebresha on Twitter and Facebook and to check the campaign web site, FreeBresha.com, for updates and actions. Supporters can also email FreeBreshaMeadows@gmail.com to contact the campaign directly about ways to create or connect with local groups. To learn more about the many cases of women criminalized for acts of self-defense, check out survivedandpunished.org.

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