Labor defender: Marissa Alexander and “Stand your Ground”
Marissa Alexander, an African American Florida woman, sentenced to 20 years in prison in May of 2012, was recently released on bond. After pleading innocent to firing a warning shot at her angry estranged husband under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, the jury found her guilty Stand you ground stems from the castle doctrine concept, where a person is permitted to use deadly force if they think they are being threatened within the confines of their home, without any legal recourse. Forty-six states now acknowledge, via castle doctrine legislation, that a person is not required to retreat if their home is attacked. Twenty two other states have extended this doctrine to include any place a person has a right to be. The concept being no person should have to retreat from a place they can legally be if confronted by an assailant. This is a very old law. In fact “The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in
Beard v. U.S.
(1895) that a man who was “on his premises” when he came under attack and “...did not provoke the assault, and had at the time reasonable grounds to believe, and in good faith believed, that the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm...was not obliged to retreat, nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground.”
“John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, analyzed a pool of 43,500 homicides by race in states with Stand Your Ground laws. Roman found that a greater number of homicides were found justified in Stand Your Ground states in all racial combinations, a result he believes is because those states yielded more killings overall.” “Roman also found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception:
Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings (our emphasis.)
In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent”. (Frontline 7/12)
Roman’s data is clear and viable. There is racial disparity in the application of stand your ground laws. So Marissa didn’t stand a chance on two counts. Given that the “Stand your ground” disparity mirrors the inequality in the culture at large, the fact that she was African American already put her at a disadvantage for a fair trial in general,