These Women Face Death by Incarceration, But They’re Organizing for Their Lives

Truthout, 04/21/23: “When she was 20 years old, Sheená King was sentenced to life without parole. Two years earlier, King’s boyfriend had coerced her into fatally shooting another woman, threatening to kill her and her family if she refused. She was convicted of murder, which, in Pennsylvania, mandates life without parole.

It’s a sentence that King, now age 50, and other advocates call ‘death by incarceration.’

‘Freedom is ensured when my ashes are shipped to my daughter in a cardboard box,’ she explained in a newly released report on women and trans people serving similar sentences…

As of March 2023, Pennsylvania’s two women’s prisons confined 1,871 women, trans and gender-nonconforming people. Of those, 197 — or over 10 percent — are serving life without parole sentences.

Given their relatively small percentage, the experiences of people sentenced to death by incarceration are often overlooked and under-reported. Now, a new report brings their stories — which often start with violence from loved ones — to the forefront.

From Victim to Victor draws from surveys and follow-up interviews detailing the life histories, prison experiences and policy recommendations of 73 women and trans people serving similar sentences in Pennsylvania’s women’s prisons. The report is researched and written by incarcerated people in partnership with outside advocates from the Abolitionist Law Center, the Human Rights Coalition and Let’s Get Free: The Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee.”

Read the full story here.