Marissa Alexander Freed After Years Behind Bars

Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in a Florida prison after defending her actions under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law. Now, the Jacksonville mother of three can finally claim the freedom that many say she should have never lost.

Alexander was released on Jan. 27 after she completed two years of court-ordered home confinement and previously served nearly three years in prison on weapons and assault charges. In 2014, Alexander accepted a plea deal of her conviction in a jury trial to avoid a potential 60 years behind bars.

“Today, after 3 years behind bars and 2 years of house detention, Marissa Alexander was finally released from state confinement,” a statement from the Free Marissa Now campaign reads. “Marissa Alexander has been punished for over 5 years for defending her life from a domestic violence attack threatening her life nine days after she gave birth. The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is thrilled that we have finally made it to the day that we can say Marissa Alexander has her freedom.”

Since the beginning of her ordeal, Alexander prioritized the need to use her case as a way to bring attention to the institutional patterns of criminalizing survivors. Her case drew national attention in 2012 largely due to George Zimmerman’s case—also in Florida—where the neighborhood watchman murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after following him as he walked home from the convenience store.

Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges and did not claim Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense law. But Alexander believed she had a legitimate reason to benefit from the law intended to protect self-defense shooters from criminal prosecution.

Alexander testified that her ex-husband, Rico Gray, threatened to kill her on Aug. 2010, moments before she fired her legally registered firearm into the ceiling of her Jacksonville home to prevent a domestic violence attack. In sworn statements, Gray acknowledged that he physically abused Alexander.

In one statement, Gray said “I got five baby mamas and I put my hands on every last one of them except one,” according to Mic.