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Feminist News


January-06-97

Clemency Granted to Nine Battered Kentucky Women Raises Awareness of Domestic Violence in Legislature

In December 1995, then-Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones granted clemency to nine women convicted of murdering their abusive husbands and to a tenth woman convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband (See Related Story). The clemency allowed the women to be paroled before they had served half of their prison sentences; subsequently the ten women were paroled. A year later, the parole board has released information on all of the women's current statuses. Seven of the women have steady jobs, one is enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program and two others are receiving social security disability benefits. None of the women have violated any terms of their parole.

The women's release and their subsequent progress drew statewide attention to a law enacted to help victims of domestic abuse. The law holds that victims of domestic violence should have a special hearing to decide sentencing and parole. Despite the law, the ten women were never awarded such a hearing. When the Governor commuted their sentences, their supporters claimed that he did what others should have done for the women earlier, Kentucky Parole Board Chairwoman Helen Howard-Hughes commented, "I think the one thing we found was it was in the statutes, but a lot of people were not aware of it." Since the women's release, the General Assembly has passed a series of laws to help victims of domestic violence. For example, health and legal professionals are now required to receive training on domestic violence.

Media Resources: The Lexington Herald-Leader - January 7, 1997