Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Teen Trafficking Survivor Gets Life Without Parole

These days, the Rhodes scholars of the criminal justice system seem to like locking people up for life the way Mark Sanford likes frequent filer miles on Aerolineas. Well, they've managed another winner: sentencing 16-year-old trafficking victim Sara Kruzan to die in prison for killing her pimp.

When Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, she was 11. Sara's mom struggled with drug addiction, so when G.G. would drive Sara and her friends to the roller skating rink or the mall, it felt like having a real parent around. He gave Sara presents and told her she was special- so special, that she should never give sex away for free. He convinced her she was a product.

G.G. groomed Sara like this for two years before he raped her. By then, his control was complete and he forced her into prostitution. Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were out on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night. Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit. After three years, she snapped, and she killed him.

Surviving sexual violence is one of the most difficult things in the world. Surviving repeated sexual violence as a child doubtlessly takes its mental and physical toll. G.G. stole Sara's 8th, 9th, and 10th grade years- money and rape taking the place of dances and dates. How can a person ever recover from something like that? But Sara survived.

What Sara did was terrible, and she knows it. But if ever there are mitigating circumstances for a crime, these are them. To tell someone like Sara who has overcome such abuse that her destiny is to die in prison, no matter how much she changes, is cruel.

The vast majority of women in prison have histories of abuse from families and/or intimate partners. Does this mean they are not accountable for their actions? Of course not. Murder should always be punished. But Sara Kruzan's case is one of ludicrous over-sentencing of a young girl who escaped from hell in a heinous way.

Sara Kruzan deserves to be punished. But she also deserves hope. She deserves hope that she didn't survive being raped and sold for three years for nothing. She deserves hope that the darkest chapter of her life has passed, and a horizon lies ahead. She deserves hope that she can change.

See full article and video of Sara here:

1 comment: