Bresha Meadows will walk free. The 16-year-old who allegedly murdered her father after years of abuse had two years of her life taken from her, though she was the true victim. However unfortunate, the initial outcome was not altogether unexpected. But the teen is set to be released with two years of parole which many hope will not obstruct the rest of her teen development.
In August of 2016, 14-year-old Bresha was charged with allegedly having murdered her abusive father, Jonathan Meadows. The teen pleaded, “not true,” the juvenile equivalent of “not guilty.” But in the background, the teen’s mother, Brandi Meadows, called her a “hero” for doing what she never could after enduring years of verbal and physical abuse.
In 2011, Meadows’ mother filed a civil violence protection order, elaborating the nature of the marriage. “In the 17 years of our marriage, he has cut me, broke my ribs, fingers, the blood vessels in my hand, my mouth, blackened my eyes. I believe my nose was broken. If he finds us, I am 100 percent sure he will kill me and the children,” she wrote, according to HuffPost. Unfortunately, Brandi decided to pardon the protection order and settle for reconciliation with her husband which is not uncommon in these situations.
For another five years, the abuse continued until Meadows, who was diagnosed with PTSD, essentially saved them.
Meadows was said to have walked in on her sleeping father and murdered him with a .45 caliber, semi-automatic handgun on July 28, 2016. She’d run away from home two months prior, telling relatives that she was afraid. At her trial on August 30, 2016, Meadows’ attorney, Ian Friedman, declared that she “lived in a perpetual state of fear, spending most of her time in her bedroom to escape the violence.” Friedman posited that the gun used to kill Jonathan Meadows was the same one that he threatened his family with.
All of the signs pointed to self-defense after relatives of the accused came forth and described her father as physically and verbally abusive, and controlling. But it was disregarded. For the next two years, Meadows would be bounced around from facility to facility.
Meadows spent ten months in Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center in Ohio before pleading guilty as a part of a plea deal. She was then sentenced to another two months in a juvenile detention center before spending six months in a mental facility, Jezebel reports.
Meadows’ release is a rarity but the narrative prior to it is not uncommon. Domestic abuse victims, particularly black women, are disproportionately imprisoned in situations like this one. In the case of Marissa Alexander of Florida, who was practically imprisoned for six years for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband, the state’s Stand Your Ground law was unevenly distributed.
Jezebel points to an ACLU statistic which observed that black women were 2.5 times more likely than white women to be incarcerated in 2004. Additionally, women of color who are victims of abuse have a higher chance of being processed by the criminal justice system and labeled as criminals than their white female counterparts.
Meadows’ release is an unexpected but eminent turn, one that sets a standard for something better to look forward to.