Florida mother Marissa Alexander became the poster girl for domestic violence victims and their unfair treatment by the justice system. After facing up to 60 years behind bars for firing a single shot near her abusive husband she was unable to convince a jury she had feared for her life and spent three years in jail awaiting trial.
Activists worldwide rallied to her cause and finally, Alexander was set free for good in January. However, she remains on two years of house arrest and electronic monitoring, with employment and specific appointments being the exception.
In order to earn her freedom, Alexander, 34, had to plead guilty to three counts of aggravated assault in the case. Her ex-husband Rico Gray had been previously accused of beating other intimate partners.
A relieved Alexander says among the first things she did once she got home was get a pedicure.
“My first time home I spent it with my family. I basically got a pedicure. My attorneys came over and we just celebrated being home,” Alexander said. As far as being under house arrest, Alexander says that while it’s been challenging, she’s been busy readjusting to live outside of jail.
“People think ‘she has nothing to do all day’ but I have teenage children and I have a rotating schedule with getting my baby girl (with Gray) and I recently found employment so I am working now, but it is challenging,” Alexander says.
She is allowed to go to her children’s school and to appointments, but is prohibited from the total freedom of going out to eat or to the movies or anywhere else that doesn’t directly involve kids or work.
“Community control is essentially you’re at home rather than jail. It’s meant for you to transition back into society but you can’t do any of those things. You are just at home, instead of in jail.”
Alexander is working from home on her computer, which she calls a blessing. She had to disclose her status to her employer (as if it wouldn’t come up via Google search) but she also has to have her probation officer check in with her employer.
As for her husband, who Alexander is divorcing, while they share joint custody of their daughter, Rihanna, there is a no-contact order and she can’t talk to or about him.
“As long as our daughter’s needs are taken care of, that’s all I’m concerned about,” she says.
If Alexander stays within the bounds of her probation, she is not expected to face any further charges. She does hope to help other women down the line but will wait until she’s absolutely free to do so.
“I was an upstanding citizen and I still am. I’m not concerned about being charged with anything or violating anything,” Alexander says. As to when she will be able to speak freely about her life and what led up to her arrest, she says she will disclose more in time.
“Those things that are understood need no explaining,” she says. “There’s a time and a season for everything.”
Alexander says that she’s been journaling throughout so a book is likely forthcoming down the line. While in jail, she was so removed from the outside world that at first she didn’t at first understand the extent of the support her case was getting until she started getting letters from around the world.
Already holding a master’s degree, Alexander says she will return to school to get her paralegal license in the spring.
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Jacque Reid & Marissa Alexander On Life After Prison, Continuing Her Education was originally published on blackamericaweb.com