Bresha Meadows, Teen Imprisoned for Shooting Abusive Father, Returns Home | Sojourners

Bresha Meadows, Teen Imprisoned for Shooting Abusive Father, Returns Home

Bresha Meadows, the teen from Warren, Ohio, was released from juvenile incarceration and a mental health facility after 18 months on Feb. 4, according to HuffPost

On July 28, 2016, 14-year-old Bresha fatally shot her 41-year-old physically and verbally abusive father with the same gun he would often use to threaten her mother and siblings with. 

Bresha's mother, Brandi Meadows, called her daughter a hero. "I wasn’t strong enough to get out and she helped me. ... She helped me; she helped all of us so we could have a better life," she told Fox8

"She had to take matters into her own hands believing that if she didn’t stop her father, it was just going to get worse and eventually somebody was going to die," Ian Friedman, Bresha's lawyer, told The New York Times.  

Prosecutors initially sought to try Bresha as an adult for aggravated murder charges. Ultimately, Bresha was charged with involuntary manslaughter, sentenced a year in juvenile detention, six months in mental health incarceration, and an additional two years of probation. Her record will be sealed and expunged when she turns 21.

Her case garnered national headlines, provoking questions about the criminal justice system and the criminalization of black women and girls. The #FreeBresha movement was formed, advocating for the teen through various calls to action like letter-writing campaigns to the prosecutor and fundraisers to raise money for the mandatory mental health facility costs. 

Colby Lenz and Mariame Kaba, two organizers of the movement, wrote a Teen Vogue op-ed published after Bresha returned home: 

Bresha should never have been incarcerated, but it is a win nonetheless. ... Bresha’s case also reminds us why we all must work to develop and practice transformative solutions to violence that do not rely on carceral systems, including policing, prosecution, and prisons. ... All who demanded Bresha’s freedom played a role in her survival and release and in pushing national discourse toward decriminalizing survival. Now, it continues to be on all of us to keep doing the work to end the criminalization of survival and to demand safe, resourced futures for Black girls like Bresha and for all survivors.

"This is a good child,” Friedman, said in Ohio’s Trumbull County Family Court. “She grew up in an environment where every adult failed her. ... This did not have to happen.”

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