Friday, September 27, 2013


Some good news.  Marissa Alexander is going to get a new trial.  An appeals court judge ruled that the trial court had essentially forced Marissa to prove her innocnese as opposed to the state proving her guilty.  

Judge James H. Daniel wrote for the unanimous state appelate panel in Florida. 

“The defendant’s burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense...The defendant does not have the burden to prove the victim guilty of the aggression defended against beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

Judge Daniel also said that  Alexander should not have been required to prove that she had been injured by her husband (as a justification for using deadly force in self-defense), since he had not been injured by the shooting.  Marissa fired the shot into the ceiling, not him.

He ordered a retrial. A separate proceeding would determine whether Alexander could be released on bail pending that trial.

Every additional day is jail which Marissa spends is plain wrong.  Every day she has spent in jail has been because she defended herself against abuse.  

It is as simple as that and virtually everyone knows that.

So why is she still sitting behind bars.


State Attorney Angela Corey has pledged that she will retry the case.  "The defendant's conviction was reversed on a legal technicality," said a statement released by Corey's office. "The case will be back in Circuit Court in the Fourth Judicial Circuit at the appropriate time."  

On the same day that news broke about a new trial for Marissa, a curriculum for those who want to offer teach-ins about her case and others like it was posted on line by Project NIA.  For Scission Prison Friday, I am passing along that curriculum right here, right now.

No Selves to Defend: Curriculum for Marissa Alexander Teach-In

On the occasion of Marissa Alexander’s 33rd birthday, we hosted a teach-in about her case in the context of others involving women of color who were criminalized for defending from violence.

Even before we facilitated the teach-in we were asked by others if we could share the curriculum and materials with them. A big part of our work at Project NIA is focused on making information readily available in the spirit of collaboration and a desire for a more just world.

As such, we are making the curriculum and materials that were developed by Mariame Kaba freely available. Please feel free to adapt the materials however you choose. We only ask that you make sure to creditProject NIA for the materials as you use them. In addition, please be aware that this curriculum was only offered once and is a work in progress. The feedback was very positive but we would definitely appreciate it if you would share any improvements you make to the curriculum. We would love to keep adding to it and sharing what you develop with others too. We will happily upload your materials here for others to use.



Biderman’s Chart of Coercion (hand this out with the case study above)

APPENDIX (Additional Information)

You can hand out the following handout during the historical timeline activity to the small groups that might be discussing the cases of Inez Garcia, the New Jersey 7, Joan Little, and CeCe McDonald (in case they don’t have enough background on the cases). CASE STUDIES (Optional)

The following is a handout developed by the Free Marissa Now Campaign with a list ofACTIONS that folks can take to support her.

If you are going to facilitate this teach-in, I suggest that you read this STATEMENT ABOUT MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCING (PDF) and its intersection with domestic violence and racism developed by the Free Marissa Now Campaign. It would also be a good resource for teach-in participants as well.

Facilitators might also want to read the statement of Incite! calling for the freedom of Marissa Alexander. The statement does a terrific job underscoring the social forces that led to her criminalization while also showing how to do intersectional analysis.

The National Coalition against Domestic Violence can also provide facilitators with background information that might be helpful (this is especially true if you don’t have a grounding in the dynamics of DV).

Finally, I encourage facilitators who are new to thinking about the Prison Industrial Complex to read through The PIC Is which is a zine that was developed by us and the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective. It’s a quick read and provides a brief intro to the PIC.
Good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to address them to Mariame at

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