Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brown Calls out Corey at Vigil; NAACP Protests Alexander's Mandatory 20-Year Sentence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brown Calls out Corey at Vigil; NAACP Protests Alexander's Mandatory 20-Year Sentence

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Broward

The NAACP's Jacksonville chapter held a vigil Tuesday morning in protest of Marissa Alexander's 20-year prison sentence, but it was U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's voice that may have been the loudest.

Brown, chapter president Isaiah Rumlin and a handful of pastors joined together at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, calling out area law enforcement agencies and justice systems over the application of Florida's "10-20-Life" statute.

Brown said Alexander was an abused woman with no criminal history prior to the August 2010 shooting.

She said her actions in firing what Alexander has called a warning shot to fend off an attacking, threatening husband does not warrant the 20 years she is serving.

A jury convicted Alexander in March of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The 20 years was a mandatory sentence.

Brown said she has talked to state legislators who have told her the laws were not intended for defendants like Alexander but rather for habitual offenders.

Brown said the federal government gave approximately $170 million last year to Florida's prison system but only about $12 million to the state for assisting victims of domestic abuse.

She said she is scheduling a congressional hearing to look into the application of the mandatory term statutes throughout the state with a focus on Duval County.

She said she joined with the Black, Hispanic and Asian caucuses in asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

New York attorney Michael Dowd, who Brown called the best domestic abuse lawyer in the country, has agreed to take Alexander's case and is putting together a legal team for her appeal.

In a phone interview, Dowd told the Times-Union the case is disturbing and said it sends a terrible message to battered women. He said Alexander's case is one of the worst injustices against an abused woman that he has seen in his 30 years of practice.

"This is an inflexible, intolerable prosecutor, blind to the facts of the case and to the circumstances of Mrs. …

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