John M. Becker

CeCe McDonald Freed From Prison Early

Filed By John M. Becker | January 14, 2014 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: anti-trans violence, CeCe McDonald, Free CeCe, injustice, Jacqueline Gares, Laverne Cox, Minnesota, prison

cece_release.jpgCeCe McDonald, the Minnesota trans woman of color who was brutally beaten in a vicious hate crime but was jailed for fatally stabbing one of her attackers, was released early from prison yesterday, more than a year before the scheduled completion of her 41-month sentence.

Tony Merevick of BuzzFeed reports that McDonald will spend the remainder of her sentence under the monitoring of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. He continues:

McDonald, who identifies as female, was sentenced to 41 months in a men's prison facility last spring for the stabbing death of Dean Schmitz. McDonald and a group of friends were walking near a grocery story late on the night of June 5, 2011, when they were allegedly accosted by a group of people shouting racist and transphobic comments at them. According to McDonald's testimony, a fight broke out in which a bottle was smashed on her face and, ultimately, she stabbed Schmitz with scissors in what she said was an act of self-defense.

She was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and in May 2012, accepted a plea bargain with reduced charges of second-degree manslaughter. Throughout the case, supporters around the world rallied behind McDonald, calling her incarceration unjust and her placement in a men's facility discriminatory.

CeCe's murder conviction -- despite the fact that she was desperately fighting back in a situation where her own life was gravely threatened -- and subsequent misgendering and incarceration in a men's prison turned her into a symbol of the systemic injustices faced every day by trans women, and trans women of color in particular, both in the prison system and in society at large.

A documentary about her story, called Free CeCe, is currently being co-produced by journalist/filmmaker Jacqueline Gares and Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox. (Full disclosure: Jacqueline Gares is a personal friend.) For more information about Free CeCe, visit the project's Facebook and fiscal sponsorship pages.

A brief video of CeCe's release from prison is after the jump.

Photo via Facebook.

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