In 1974, Joan Little was charged with first degree murder after she stabbed a prison guard who sexually assaulted her at Beaufort County jail. Joan’s case became a national cause for prison abolitionists, prisoners’ rights advocates, feminists, anti-violence activists, and people advocating against the death penalty and for racial justice. Protests in support of her case were widespread and global. After a five week trial, the jury, made up of both Black and white people, deliberated for less than 90 minutes before acquitting Little.
Joan Little was the first woman to be acquitted of murder on the grounds of of self-defense against sexual violence.
In June, Hope Dector from the Barnard Center for Research on Women and I released three collaborative videos with Mariame Kaba, narrated by CeCe McDonald with audio editing by Lewis Wallace, artwork and photographs by Sarah-Jane Rhee, Nicole Harrison, Molly Crabapple, Dignidad Rebelde, and Erin K. Wilson. Each of the three short videos highlight a case of a person criminalized for defending herself from gender violence.
Download the Survived and Punished toolkit for resources on starting a defense campaign:
Visit the Survived and Punished website to learn about ongoing campaigns for freedom: