Ohio teenager Bresha Meadows shot and killed her father after allegedly facing over a decade of abuse at his hands. The court case, in which it was decided that Meadows would not be tried as an adult, garnered national intrigue and opened up conversations about child abuse, self defense, and racial and gender biases in the justice system. After being sentenced to months of confinement in a mental health facility, Meadows will be freed this Sunday, according to Jezebel.
In the summer of 2016, Bresha had shot her father Jonathan Meadows in the head with his own .45 caliber handgun as he slept. Brandi Meadows, Bresha's mother, later said that the two had faced considerable physical abuse from Jonathan and that Bresha had fought back after years. Brandi hailed her daughter as a hero.
“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," said Brandi in 2011 after filing a police report.
The family of Jonathan Meadows has disputed claims about his abusive behavior.
Nonetheless, Bresha has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She will be put on probation for two years following her release. Her records will be officially sealed in three years and totally purged in five, according to The New York Times.
When Bresha potentially faced life in prison over her crime, social media rallied behind the young girl, creating a #FreeBresha campaign.
Jezebel notes that women of color face disproportionately higher amounts of domestic abuse and often find themselves victims of a biased justice system after fighting back. A 2009 report by the Bureau of Justice, for example, asserts that black women were twice as likely as whites to be killed by a spouse and four times as likely to be murdered by a partner. Relatedly, the ACLU reported in 2004 that black women were 4.5 times more likely than white women to be incarcerated.
“Girls of color who are victims of abuse are more likely to be processed by the criminal justice system and labeled as offenders than white girls. White girls who are abused have a better chance of being treated as victims and referred to child welfare and mental health systems," says the ACLU.
“Bresha is incredibly relieved and feeling optimistic about her life for the first time,” said Bresha's lawyer, Ian Friedman, after her sentence was delivered. “It was nice to see her genuinely smile yesterday. This young girl will now have a very bright future.”
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