Dedicated mother and church member, Mary Virginia Jones (she’s affectionately called, “Mother Mary”) was sentenced to life in prison in 1982, without the possibility of parole for murder, kidnapping and robbery  involving her abusive then-boyfriend, Mose Willis. She is now a free woman, after serving 32 years. Forget #FreeBoosie. I’d like to thank the system for freeing Mother Mary.

Willis kidnapped two men and ordered Jones at gunpoint to drive to a back alley in Los Angeles (possibly to provide the getaway car), where he shot the two men. Jones ran and was apprehended two days later. “I did not willingly participate in this crime, but I believe entering a no contest plea is in my best interest,” Jones told the judge Monday. Imagine your abusive boyfriend forcing you to take part in a gruesome crime and you have no power to object because he’d take your life!

A week before the Willis kidnapped the men, he shot at Jones’ daughter and threatened to kill them if they went to the police. Jones may have served a considerable amount of time for her involvement in the crime, but she has not been forgotten.

With the help of law students at USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project, Jones was able to challenge her case. She stated that she would not have been convicted if the jury had heard expert testimony about the impact of battered women’s syndrome.

According to reports, Jones regained her freedom and prompted cries of joy in the courtroom. Jones’ children and friends celebrated her freedom. “My mother never wavered on her belief of…her innocence and the fact that she never should have been in custody and the fact that she is being released today. She knew this day was coming,” said Jones’ daughter, Denitra Jones-Goodie.

Jones is expected to be released today, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Her children say they’re just looking forward to sitting down at the dinner table with their mother for the first time in more than three decades. I can’t help but tear up to this story. I couldn’t imagine my mother being battered and forced to take part in murder, only to be put away and miss out on my entire life because of it.

Battered women need more advocates in their corners. In the United States, women are more likely to be attacked, injured, raped or killed by a current or former male partner than all other types of assailants. It’s never as easy as just walking away.

There are four main reasons why battered women tend to not be able to get away: the police and courts offer little substantial protection, leaving is financially impossible, especially when there are children involved; and, finally, the women know, better than anyone, that he will track her down and the violence will be even worse. In fact, women who leave their batterers are statistically more likely to be killed than women who stay.

It’s a beautiful thing to see that an innocent woman like Mother Mary is able to be free years after being imprisoned in the system and in her love life. If you or someone you know is ever involved in a domestic violence situation, please know what you can do:

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