The Fire Inside congratulates Jane “Shay” Woods, who was released on parole in September after serving over twelve years in prison, and Rose Ann Parker who is scheduled to be released in December after serving nearly fifteen years. Jane Woods was convicted of second degree murder in March 1988 for allegedly arranging to have two men attack her abusive boyfriend who was killed in the incident. Woods was granted a parole date for 2000 in 1997 under former Governor Wilson. This past summer, Governor Davis sent the case back to the Board of Prison Terms (BPT)for review but they let the release decision stand and Davis had no authority to override their decision at this point.
Rose Ann Parker was pregnant when her abusive boyfriend brandished a gun and threatened to kill her, her unborn child and her two year old son unless she agreed to have an abortion. In response she shot the boyfriend and was convicted of second degree murder in 1987, at a time when Battered Women’s Syndrome was not yet considered a legal defense. Davis decided to let the Parole Board’s decision to release Parker stand, citing “extraordinary and compelling circumstances” despite earlier vows that he would never agree to release anyone with a murder conviction. However, he delayed her release by several months and also insisted that Parker attend parenting classes.
Parker’s parole date is a result of the mounting public pressure supporting the release of battered women prisoners and opposing Davis’ illegal no parole policy. It is likely that both the Parole Board and Davis will try and use this one release as a show case to protect themselves from the political backlash against their policies. However, there are dozens of other battered women and thousands of other prisoners who are eligible for parole now and, according to the law, should be released. We need to make it clear to Davis and the BPT that prisoners, family members and their advocates will not be bought off with token gestures!