Today the Oklahoma Parole and Probation Board voted 4 to 1 to advance Tondalao Hall’s application for clemency and grant Hall a full hearing.
Outside the parole board meeting, 400 stories from survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence written and stitched onto red fabric were displayed on the lawn of the Kate Bernard Correctional Facility. Brought from Baltimore to Oklahoma in partnership with Ultra Violet, the Monument Quilt is a bright, red, giant monument and memorial to survivors. The quilt seeks to transform US culture from a country that shames and punishes survivors to a country that supports survivors.
Tondalao Hall is a survivor of domestic violence who has served 10 years of a 30-year prison sentence for “failing to protect” her child from her abusive partner. Her 30-year sentence is 15 times longer than the two years her abuser served. After today’s vote, her case must be still go through a full Parole Board hearing and ultimately be approved by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin for Hall to be set free. If her current application for clemency is denied she will not be up for parole for another 15 years.
In a phone conversation with advocates this week, Tondalao Hall stated that she hopes her story helps other women and survivors of domestic violence.
“The case of Tondalao Hall is a sobering example of the continued struggle of people of color within criminal justice system in the US,” says Deletta Gillespie an artist and educator traveling with The Monument Quilt. “Add to that the fact that she is a woman, and considering and our nation’s current penchant for victimizing victims, her sentence is a sad reflection of our so called justice system. Her story should be a call to arms. The Monument Quilt being at her hearing connects those fighting for Tondalao with the voices of survivors and people with stories like hers across the country.”
Survivors of domestic violence and women of color are routinely punished by the criminal justice system rather than supported. This past February, The Monument Quilt was displayed at Marissa Alexander’s hearing, a Florida woman who served 3 years in prison for firing a warning shot that harmed no one while undergoing a life-threatening attack from her abusive husband. While Alexander should have never spent a day in prison, a national campaign successfully reduced her sentence to 3 years from the 60 years the prosecutor was seeking.
Survivors, loved ones and supporters are encouraged to add their voices to the Monument Quilt by making a square. To date, over 500 collected quilt squares have been displayed in 17 different cities across the US (read more on CNN and MSNBC). In a culminating display in Washington DC, 6,000 fabric squares will blanket over one mile of the national mall to spell “Not Alone.”