From the Oklahoman:
In 1998, April Wilkens shot and killed her fiancé, who had handcuffed and raped her in a Tulsa home. A jury convicted her of first-degree murder, and Wilkens was sentenced to life in an Oklahoma prison.
“I knew that I was going to die. I just knew I was going to die,” Wilkens said last year about being abused and why she shot her fiancé with his own gun.
Wilkens has been denied parole four times, but she has never been able to use the evidence of her domestic abuse in her appeal for early release.
But House Bill 1639, which was unanimously advanced by a state House committee could give Wilkens and other incarcerated women like her a chance at freedom. HB 1639 would give women the chance to present those details to a court. The bill also would allow a woman convicted of a crime to enter evidence of their abuse at a sentencing mitigation hearing.
Today’s read is from the imprisoned April Wilkens. Here’s an excerpt:
There is strong bipartisan support for this kind of legislation because rigid and extreme sentencing laws have devastated too many women, and their children, after already horrific and violent experiences in their lives. Our legal system must account for the circumstances behind every crime, and sentences should be proportional depending on those circumstances.
Read her column here.
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