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Copyright (c) 2007 Hastings College of the Law 
Hastings Women's Law Journal

ARTICLE: Battered Women, Homicide Convictions, and Sentencing: The Case for Clemency

Winter, 2007

18 Hastings Women's L.J. 31


Carol Jacobsen, Kammy Mizga and Lynn D'Orio*


The worldwide crisis of violence against women, from intimate relationships to interactions with the state, is a human rights issue of intolerable proportions. According to Amnesty International, 70 percent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners, globally. 1 In response, governments have publicly condemned violence against women, but have failed in substantive ways to show political will to fully address it, provide financial resources to end it, or meet women's needs for alternative strategies and support. Since the site of greatest danger for women is in the home, and the greatest threat is found in their relationships to men, "Amnesty International points to every country in the world for failing to protect women in their own homes." 2

In the United States, police encounter more cases of domestic violence each year than all other forms of violence combined. Approximately 85 percent of the victims of partner violence are female. 3 At least 1,200 women, or one-third of all female murder victims, are murdered by their male partners each year, while less than 4 percent of all male murder victims are killed by female partners. 4 Most women who kill do so to defend themselves from men who have repeatedly beaten them. 5

Despite the very real dangers that many women live with on a daily basis, those who defend themselves against batterers are given no special consideration by the criminal-legal system if they are forced to kill. In fact, there is ...
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