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Battered Women's Jail Sentences

June 23, 1996

* Our commission is greatly concerned about the number of battered women who have killed their spouses or boyfriends and are serving longer prison terms than males who kill their spouses or girlfriends.

Research shows that women who leave their batterers are at 75% greater risk of being killed than women who stay with their batterers.

In the average profile, females who kill their spouses or boyfriends tend to have no previous history of violence and kill in self-defense or to protect their children.

Statistics from the California Department of Corrections indicate that women are historically paroled less frequently than men for life crimes and serve longer prison terms than men in second-degree murder cases. Why is this?

Our commission is aware of a battered woman who has served over 19 years for collaborating to have her husband killed. This was after years of beatings and when the husband impregnated their 12-year-old, she fought back to protect her children. The male who killed the husband has been released from prison. This woman has no history of violence, has a job and home waiting for her and has been recommended for parole by three prison psychiatrists. She was sentenced before the "battered women's syndrome" could be introduced.

JUNE DUNBAR

Los Angeles County

Commission for Women

Domestic Violence Council

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