Brooke Edwards, Staff Writer
Domestic violence victim Brenda Clubine of California spent 26 years in prison for killing her husband. After surviving various beatings, Clubine defended her life when threatened in a locked motel room. “He demanded I hand over my wedding rings… He said ‘because tomorrow they won’t be able to identify your body without them,’” recounts Clubine. Her husband died of blunt force trauma after she hit him in the head with a wine bottle.
In 1983, Clubine received a sentence of 15 years to life and had to give her son up for adoption. Clubine was unable to present the medical records, photos and witnesses that proved the extent of her abuse because Battered Women’s Syndrome was not yet legally recognized. She was released from prison in 2008, but returns at least once a month to attend the support group she started many years ago, Convicted Women Against Abuse.
Rosemary Dyer, a member of the support group says she has received letters from other victims of domestic violence seeking advice. After six months of correspondence with a woman abused by her baby’s father, Dyer was given the heartbreaking information as to why her pen pal stopped writing – she had been beaten to death. “The only thing I could think of was what more could I have said to express to her the importance to get away,” says Dyer.
On September 30, Governor Edmund Brown Jr. signed the “Sin By Silence” bills. The bills will allow new evidence to be considered in the cases of women serving decades-long sentences for killing their abusive partners.
Assembly woman, Fiona Ma has worked hard to make apparent the challenges incarcerated victims of domestic violence experience while in the judicial system: “I am so proud that Governor Brown has signed both of my bills.”
“Today, we give hope to approximately 7,000 victims across the state who have survived domestic violence, who believed the system had failed them, and will now have an opportunity to speak out against injustice,” says Ma. She also adds that one of the catalysts behind the legislation was Brenda Clubine’s powerful story.