It’s not a matter of justifying the murders 11 women committed. Rather, it’s a matter of at last seeing those women receive justice that has driven the Missouri Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition all these years. The Coalition has reached its goal with the state parole board ordering the release of two women from prison next month and another one in 2013. 

Those three and eight others murdered or arranged the murders of their abusive husbands in the 70s and the 80s.  That was before judges and juries were allowed to hear evidence of the abuse they endured.  The coalition is not saying they’re innocent.  But it has maintained their life sentences might have been something less if the jury had heard about mitigating circumstances.   The coalition’s Mary Beck says they were subjected to nothing less than atrocities such as “being tied to a table and having burning candles inserted into your vagina.  I mean having a dog collar put around your neck and being led by that and being forced to bark. I mean being put in an unheated basement in January and being left there for days at a time without a coat.”  And she says records show other graphic examples of abuse that reached the level of atrocity.

The legislature passed a law in 2007 saying the board of probation and parole could release women who could not use the battered spouse defense when they were sentenced/ Beck says the board has been dragging its feet—and says the coalition has had to get three court rulings against the board to get it to approve paroles for all eleven women. 

 Bob Priddy and Prof. Mary Beck discuss the issue(s) 21:17 mp3