Regularly raped and beaten by her husband, sexually abused by uncles, neighbors, and friends, and physically abused by her mother, 21-year-old battered woman’s syndrome victim Connie Keel was threatened by her husband and forced to stay in the car in 1980 while her armed husband and his cousin made a non-planned stop at a liquor store to buy cigarettes. While inside, they robbed the store and killed the clerk.
Connie, who had nothing to do with what happened, was charged with armed robbery and murder. She has worked hard and taken a lot of classes to become a new person, but at 50 years old and after 29 years and six parole hearings, she is still in prison.
Second-year and 25-year-old USC Gould School of Law student Adam Reich has taken up her cause and is doing everything he can to get her released. He created the http://freeconnie.com to raise awareness about Connie’s plight and to urge people to contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ask him to free her. According to that website:
“On October 29, 2008 a parole board determined that Connie Keel is ‘suitable for parole and would not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society or a threat to public safety if released from prison.'”
According to the USC Gould School of Law web page about Adam’s participation in this case, he said that “When I first decided to go to law school I thought I would be on the corporate track. Once I got here, I learned I could be engaged in promoting justice and having a big impact on someone’s life.”
Governor Schwarzenegger has 20 days now to decide whether to free Connie. You can email him using this State of California governor contact form. The FreeConnie website has made it easy for you by posting a letter you can copy and paste into the contact form.
The ACLU of Southern California also has a web page about this and a form you can send as does the FreeBatteredWomen website. You can view a short WeTV video that features Connie Keel and can read more about battered women’s syndrome at the Divorce and Family Law Center.
Connie Keel, a battered woman and an innocent woman has served 29 years in prison for a crime she did not commit. She was a victim of an abusive husband and family. Please let Governor Schwarzenegger know that you join others who care about nonviolence and justice for women in asking that this woman be at last set free.
UPDATE 3/27/09: San Francisco Chronicle online reports today this great news!
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today upheld the state parole board’s decision to release a woman who has spent 29 years in prison for taking part in a murder that her abusive husband committed at a Campbell liquor store while she sat in a car outside.An aide to the governor notified Connie Keel of his decision in a letter faxed to the California Institution for Women in Corona (San Bernardino County). It did not state his reasoning.
UPDATE 4/1/09: Connie was released from prison today. She said:
I’ve waited a long time to hug my children, to hold them in my arms without prison guards around me. No one is there to tell me you’re hugging them too long. It makes me really, really happy.
According to the Oroville Mercury-Register, Connie will live in a half-way house for about six months.