In 2006, Robert Braxton Jr. pled guilty to assaulting his 3-month old daughter, breaking her ribs and femur. He served two years in prison.
There was no evidence to suggest that Braxton’s girlfriend, Tondalo Hall, had hurt their child. But as a mother, she had failed to prevent her child’s abuse. And for that, the Law decided, she must be punished.
With 30 years behind bars.
— Alex Campbell (@alexcampbell) June 16, 2015
Braxton was let go 9 years ago. The woman he had beaten into fearful submission—choking her, punching her—remains in prison.
Hall’s case for clemency has the support of national women’s rights group UltraViolet, and over 70,000 online petitioners, but five parole board members and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin will decide whether she is let free.
Hall isn’t asking for a full pardon, just a commutation.
“I had a duty to protect my children and I failed. But I was trapped in an abusive relationship and I feared that alerting authorities would provoke [Braxton] to increase his violence.”
It’s worth reminding ourselves that she was 22 when she was sentenced. Older, wiser people have tried and failed to extricate themselves from abusive situations. And whether we have sympathy for Hall herself or not, is punishing her worth punishing her children, now deprived of their mother?
She may have failed to protect her kids once, but Hall remains a devoted mother, writing letters to her children, taking parenting classes. She has completed her G.E.D. from prison, likely with the hope of providing a better future for her children, if given the opportunity.