Norma Cumpian, a 40-year-old survivor of domestic violence, has spent most of her adult life behind bars. At the age of 22, fearing for her own life and the life of her unborn child, Norma shot and killed her abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend. During her trial,domestic violence experts testified that battering and its effects were a critical component of Norma's decision to fire the warning shot that caused her boyfriend's death.
The last two Board of Parole Hearings panels agreed that domestic violence contributed directly to Norma's commitment offense. However, due in part to the relatively limited understanding of the effects of Battered Women's Syndrome at the time of her trial in 1992, a jury convicted Norma of second degree murder. She has served 18 years of a 15 years-to-life sentence. At her most recent parole hearing, the Parole Board recognized that Norma has accepted full responsibility and demonstrated genuine remorse for her crime. The Board also found that Norma has been a model of rehabilitation, using her time in prison to better herself and those around her.
Norma recently obtained her Associate's degree (graduating as valedictorian of her class) and has completed multiple vocational programs. She has given much back to her community through her work as a peer counselor in the mental health department, her service as Chairperson of Convicted Women Against Abuse from 2000-2004, and successful training of service dogs for disabled Americans. Norma also has an exemplary disciplinary record; numerous prison supervisors have praised her hard work and dedication to her various volunteer and work assignments at the California Institution for Women. The Board's own psychologists agree that Norma has developed into a dependable, insightful woman and predict an exceedingly low risk of recidivism upon her release. Norma has solid parole plans--confirmed residence at a transitional sober-living program and a variety of job offers--upon her release. She has strong support from friends and family. Upon her release, Norma plans to pursue her Bachelor's degree and reunite with her son. (Click here to watch a video of Norma taken from footage for the documentary "Sin-by-Silence.")
On March 11, 2010, the Board found Norma suitable for release and granted her parole for the second consecutive year. Governor Schwarzenegger has until August 9, 2010 to make his decision whether to allow the Board's grant of parole to stand.
Please contact the Governor to express your support for Norma's release. Tell him you trust the parole board to make the best determination about who is suitable for parole, and help Norma reunite with her son.