An Oklahoma woman whose punishment for not reporting her boyfriend's abuse of her children was much heavier than his for the abuse itself wiped the tears away and embraced family and friends on Friday when she was released after 15 years.
Tondalao Hall, 35, left a women's prison in McLoud, Oklahoma, after serving 13 years behind bars than her friend, who pleaded guilty in 2006 but was released on probation for the time he served.
& # 39; Blessed to be with my family, I just want to be with my family, & # 39; Hall said as she walked away from the Mabel Bassett correction center on the eastern outskirts of Oklahoma City.
The inequality in the penalties outraged women's rights defenders and drew further attention to the high degree of imprisonment of Oklahoma, especially of women.
Tondalao Hall, left, and her brother, Jeff Hall, right, wipe tears from their eyes after her release from the Mabel Basset Correctional Center in McLoud, Oklahoma on Friday
Hall (left in August) was sentenced to 30 years for not reporting abuse, while her offending friend Robert Braxton Jr. (left on undated photo) was released after two years on trial
Hall & # 39; s father, Wazell Hall, 74, said he feared that many family members would never again see Hall as a free woman.
& # 39; I was afraid that most of my family, her family, would be gone before she got out, & # 39; said Wazell Hall.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said Thursday that Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed the order to change her sentence. Her release came about a month after the Pardon State and Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend that Stitt translate her sentence to the time that was served.
Hall was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2006 after being found guilty of not protecting two of her children.
The friend, Robert Braxton Jr., pleaded guilty to abusing the children and was released on probation for the two years he had spent in prison.
Their 20-month-old son was found with a broken thigh and cracked ribs, and their three-month-old daughter had similar injuries. Hall was 19 in 2004 and she and her partner were arrested.
Tondalao Hall, in the middle, leaves Mabel Bassett Correctional Center after 15 years in prison after being convicted of not reporting her friend abusing her children
Hall, center, greets family members after her release from prison on Friday
Hall, convicted for not reporting her boyfriend for abusing her children, spent about 13 years longer in prison than he did for the abuse
When they lived with Braxton, Hall's young children suffered broken bones, but no evidence indicated that Hall committed violence or harmed her children, ACLU officials said.
"First of all I want to thank God that he has found a way and kept me safe and healthy during this season of my life," Tondalao Hall said earlier in a statement.
& # 39; Second, for all the people that God has placed in my life, my children and my family because they have stayed with me. Time and space are not suitable for the list of people who have loved me, helped and supported them all, so for everyone who has, thank you and God bless you! & # 39;
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2017 against what, in its opinion, was a disproportionate punishment because Braxton also abused Hall.
The release of Hall comes days after Monday more than 450 prisoners convicted of drug and property crimes were released.
That group was the largest one-day mass commutation in American history. Hall & # 39; s commutation came separately.
The inequality of the case has outraged indignant women's groups and focused more attention on Oklahoma's high degree of detention, especially of women, since 151 out of every 100,000 are imprisoned.
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