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Marissa Alexander Released From Prison Into House Arrest; Protesters Say It's Not Enough

Rhema Thompson

A Jacksonville woman went home from prison yesterday after originally being sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her estranged husband. Marissa Alexander will serve two years under house arrest but a judge stopped short of tacking on two additional years of probation prosecutors had sought.

Dozens of activists descended on the Duval County Courthouse lawn Tuesday afternoon. The caravans traveled from as far away as Berkeley, California, all for the expected release of Marissa Alexander.

Annie Thomas came from Miami with the Power U Center for Social Change.

Thomas says, "We’re not just talking about freeing her from prison, we’re talking about releasing her. Why should a woman be in jail for defending her family?"

Alexander pleaded guilty in November to firing a gun during a heated argument with her then-estranged husband inside her house. Her first trial ended in a conviction and a 20-year prison sentence under Florida’s 10-20-Life minimum-sentencing law. After her conviction was overturned, Alexander agreed to a plea deal shortly before her second trial was set to begin. She would serve 3-years in prison followed by 2-years of house arrest.

With credit for time served she only had to spend 65 more days in jail.

Alexander claimed from the beginning she had been a battered wife, and that she fired the gun in self-defense.

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.