Grant Commutation for Incarcerated Survivor Tammy Garvin!
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Tammy Garvin is an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence and sex trafficking who has been in prison for 27 years as a result of her abuser’s lethal violence. Tammy was only 14 years old when she was trafficked, and by the time she was convicted and sentenced to Life Without Parole in her early 30s, she suffered from the long-term effects of psychological and sexual abuse. Join us in asking Governor Jerry Brown to commute Tammy Garvin’s sentence from Life Without Parole to a parole-eligible sentence.
Tammy Garvin is an incarcerated survivor of multiple forms of abuse throughout her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. After suffering childhood sexual abuse, Tammy was sex-trafficked at age 14. Exacerbating the dangerous and high-risk conditions of sex trafficking, Tammy also suffered ongoing physical and sexual abuse as an adult.
At the time of her arrest in 1991, Tammy had survived compounded physical and sexual trauma. She was 32 years old when her latest abuser pressured her into saying which of her clients he might be able to rob. Tammy drove him to the scene and waited in the car. When it seemed like it was taking him too long to return, Tammy entered the building and realized her abuser had killed the client. Terrified and traumatized, Tammy ran from the scene with him.
As a result, Tammy and her abuser were both charged with murder: the felony murder rule was used to hold them equally culpable, even though Tammy did not murder the client. Tammy’s abuser threatened to kill her and her father if they testified against him. Under threat, Tammy revoked her testimony and her father refused to testify. Extending his abuse into courtroom proceedings, Tammy’s abuser actively undermined her ability to tell her story and her right to a fair trial. Even though Tammy’s abuser had admitted to her father that he had committed the murder, the police botched the handling of the evidence and he was ultimately acquitted.
During her trial in 1995, the criminal legal system ignored the patterns of violence inflicted on Tammy by her multiple traffickers/abusers, including her victimization since childhood. Although an expert on trafficking testified at her trial, Tammy did not have an expert on intimate partner violence because intimate relationships in the context of sex trafficking did not qualify as domestic violence in the eyes of the law. The court further undermined Tammy’s right to a fair trial by failing to recognize her as simultaneously victimized by domestic violence and sex trafficking.
While in prison, Tammy has focused on healing from the abusive cycles she was deeply embedded in at the time of her arrest. Tammy has developed meaningful insight into the traumatic impact of the abuse she suffered. She has also developed a deeper understanding of how she found herself entering a crime scene, unable to stop her abuser from killing the client, and unable to understand or escape his ongoing abuse throughout her prosecution.
Throughout her 27 years of incarceration, Tammy has been involved in serving her community. She is a peer educator on infectious diseases and a trained facilitator leading groups on Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Healing Trauma, Beyond Violence, Victim Impact, and Restorative Justice, among others. Tammy has become a leader amongst women serving life without parole, participating in various support groups and encouraging her peers to seek opportunities for healing.
Join us in asking Governor Brown to commute Tammy Garvin’s sentence from Life Without Parole to a parole-eligible sentence. Survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking should be strongly supported and affirmed rather than punished for violent acts committed by their abusers.
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