California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that gives hope for release to battered women and men who can prove their abusers coerced them into committing violent crimes, reports Women’s eNews. The law will allow new opportunities for women involved in an attempted murder or a felony with their abusive partner and convicted before August 29, 1996, if they can show proof of battery or domestic violence that would have affected the outcome of their trial. “We are thrilled about this and we’re starting the screening and outreach program almost immediately,” said Olivia Wang of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, a division of Free Battered Women in San Francisco. “There must be at least a couple of hundred women who will benefit under this bill.”
Before the “battered women’s syndrome” came into effect as a defense, many women were advised to plead guilty to crimes committed with an abuser so that they might get a softer sentence. Many experts believe that these admissions landed women in prison for doing what their abusers insisted they do.