Grant Commutation for Incarcerated Survivor Christina Martinez!
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Christina Martinez is an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence who has been in prison for nine years as a result of her abuser’s lethal violence. Christina was only 19 years old when, under the abusive duress of her boyfriend, she drove him and his friends to a house where, without her knowing, they committed a robbery that resulted in a death. Christina’s boyfriend then threatened to kill her if she told anyone. By the time she was convicted and sentenced to Life Without Parole in her early 20s, Christina suffered from the long-term effects of severe psychological and sexual abuse. Join us in asking Governor Jerry Brown to commute Christina Martinez’s sentence from Life Without Parole to a parole-eligible sentence.
Christina Martinez is an incarcerated survivor of abuse from childhood through adulthood. At age two, Christina was sexually abused by the neighbors. Christina also experienced domestic violence in her household throughout her childhood. By the time she was 18 years old, Christina’s boyfriend was psychologically, physically, verbally, and sexually abusing her.
In July 2004, Christina was 19 years old when her boyfriend/abuser forced her to drive him and two of his friends to the store. During the drive, Christina’s boyfriend/abuser changed his plan and threatened her to follow his directions. Christina thus drove him and his friends to a house she did not know. Under coercion and fear, Christina went to the house with her boyfriend/abuser and his friends. After she witnessed that they forced themselves into the home, Christina rushed back to the car terrified, not knowing that a robbery was taking place and that it resulted in someone’s death. Still unsure of what happened, her boyfriend/abuser returned to the car with his friends and shouted at her to drive, telling her “I’ll kill you if you ever speak of this day.”
By 2005, Christina was 20 years old and pregnant with her first child, worked full time at a bank, and continued to experience daily abuse from her boyfriend. Continuing to control her and her daily activities, Christina’s boyfriend/abuser demanded she bring him activated bank cards and he started withdrawing money. Ultimately the bank initiated an investigation and, in fear for the lives of her children and her own, Christina took full responsibility for the bank card fraud. By 2008, Christina pled guilty to all the fraud charges and she was sentenced to home detention due to her pregnancy with her third child. Christina’s taking responsibility for this incident - even though under duress - was another example of her attempts to survive under constant threat to her life and that of her children and family.
In 2009, 23-year-old Christina was arrested in Sacramento for her believed involvement in the 2004 robbery-murder incident, which was eventually consolidated with the bank card fraud incident. Both Christina and her boyfriend/abuser were charged with murder: the felony murder rule was used to hold them both equally culpable, even though Christina did not murder anyone. Awaiting trial at Sacramento County Jail, her boyfriend/abuser - who had throughout their relationship demanded “obedience” under threat of harm - sent messages threatening violence, including killing their children, if she testified against him. These messages reflected the extent of her boyfriend/abuser’s terror, cruelty, and control even throughout Christina’s legal proceedings.
Ultimately, at the age of 26, Christina was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Since then, Christina has devoted her time in prison to seeking healing while advocating with and supporting other incarcerated survivors. Christina describes the positive journey she has been on since entering prison, as she continues to participate in many programs, including restorative justice programs like Bridges to Life, Walk to Remember, and Pattern for Change. She is also a peer educator for groups like Beyond Violence, a Healing Trauma facilitator for newly incarcerated people, and a lead instructor for Living Outside Violence Everyday. Most importantly to Christina, she is proud to be a mother to her three children who are now 9, 11, and 12 years old. As an incarcerated mother, Christina does her ultimate best to parent her children and teach them about life experiences.
Survivors of domestic violence should be strongly supported and affirmed rather than punished for violent acts committed by their abusers. Join us in asking Governor Jerry Brown to commute Christina Martinez’s sentence from Life Without Parole to a parole-eligible sentence.
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