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'Sin by Silence' Premieres on Investigation Discovery 17 October

"I took my husband's life in a public parking lot," remembers Brenda Crosley. She's been in the California Institution for Women since 1988 for that murder, and still, she ponders how she got there. Like other women interviewed in Olivia Klaus' 2009 documentary, Sin by Silence, Crosley was abused by her husband for years. At the time she was convicted, there was no legal mechanism for her attorneys to bring this background into her defense. The film, which premieres 17 October on Investigation Discovery, reveals that changes in the law were brought about in part through efforts by the group CWAA (Convicted Women Against Abuse). Formed by another inmate at the prison, Brenda Clubine (incarcerated since 1983), the group helps inmates to see the patterns that shaped their lives -- for instance, it's typical that abuses of children in the home produce abusers and also abuse victims -- with the hope that their work inside will help others, in particular, women now living outside. The film is built of interviews with CWAA members, as well as some experts (a policeman who deals with domestic abuse cases, doctors and lawyers, and also a juror who now feels remorse for the lengthy sentence his trial imposed on a battered woman). All agree that abuse is multifold (emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, and physical) and afflicts everyone in a household. Since 1992, when Battered Women Syndrome became legally defined, some women inmates have appealed their sentences. But, as epilogues to this film report that interviewees have been denied parole, it's clear that the legal system remains slow to change.

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