Women’s advocacy groups are outraged at a case that has left one battered Oklahoma mother serving a 30-year prison sentence while her abuser walks free after serving only two years. And just yesterday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board unanimously voted to deny her the possibility of parole, though she has already spent 11 years behind bars.
BuzzFeed News reports that in 2004, Tondalo Hall was arrested for failing to protect her then-3-month-old daughter and 20-month-old son from her abusive boyfriend, Robert Braxton. According to court documents, Hall, who was also being abused by Braxton, took her two children to the doctor, where she discovered that both infants had broken ribs and broken femurs. Both Hall and Braxton were taken into custody.
During the 2004 hearing, Hall testified against Braxton, claiming that she was unaware of the children’s injuries, but both the judge and prosecutors felt that her hesitance on the stand would result in a mild sentence for Braxton. Prosecutors offered him a two-year plea deal, which he took. However, at Hall’s trial, a judge said that she was “less than candid” in her testimony, and sentenced her to 30 years in prison for failing to protect her children.
Hall isn’t eligible for parole until 2030—only four years before her scheduled release. Just yesterday, the parole board voted 5-0 to deny her application for clemency, offering no explanation.
“The Oklahoma Parole Board had the responsibility to make things right, and they failed with today’s decision,” Shaunna Thompson, co-founder of advocacy group UltraViolet, said in a statement.
BuzzFeed found that, currently, there are 28 abused women across the country who are serving prison sentences of at least 10 years for failing to protect their children from abusers.