Paris Knox: Survived and Punished

Paris Knox is a 38-year-old Black mother who, in 2007, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing her abusive ex-partner when he attacked her in her home in 2004. In early 2017, her conviction and 40-year sentence were vacated. Now, though presumed innocent and awaiting trial, her bail has been set at $500,000 with a $50,000 bond that she cannot afford. Today she remains in prison and separated from her mother, sister, and child, who is now 14 years old.

Like many other Black women, Paris is in prison for self-defense.

In the U.S., three women a day are killed by intimate partners. Black women are almost three times more likely to die at the hands of a current or ex-partner than members of other racial backgrounds. According to RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network), someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. And according to studies by the Center for Disease Control and the National Coalition on Anti Violence Programs, transgender and queer people experience higher rates of both intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Anti-violence advocates have regularly responded to these epidemic rates of domestic and sexual violence by partnering with police and district attorneys–both to try to find protection for survivors, and to empower the criminal legal system to intervene in gender violence by treating it as a crime. However, over the past four decades, this strategy has not only failed to significantly curb gender violence; it has reinforced the systemic roots of gender violence.

In aligning themselves with a deadly and racist legal system, anti-violence advocates have sought safety from the most regular purveyors of insecurity and violence against marginalized people. The consequences of this now deeply-entrenched alliance between anti-violence advocates and the criminal legal system have fallen most harmfully on the shoulders of Black, immigrant, women of color, trans, queer, disabled, and poor survivors.

– From #SurvivedAndPunished: Survivor Defense and Abolitionist Praxis

Survived and Punished is among a network of groups organizing defense campaigns to free criminalized survivors like Paris Knox, Bresha Meadows, Marissa Alexander, and Cherelle Baldwin, and support them upon their release. These campaigns lift up the right of Black women to defend their lives and to survive without being punished.

TAKE ACTION: Write to Paris and send her a book!

Expressing solidarity is an integral way to support survivors and reduce the isolation of prisons. Write paris a letter of support and encouragement at the address below. For tips on letter writing to people in prison, check out the letter writing section in the #SurvivedAndPunished toolkit.

Paris Knox
Inmate No: 20170120230
P.O. Box 089002
Chicago, Illinois 60608

You can also support Paris by purchasing a book on her wishlist.

Download the Survived and Punished toolkit for resources on starting a defense campaign.

Video Credits

These videos were conceived by Mariame Kaba with Holly Krig and narrated by CeCe McDonald. Directed and produced by Dean Spade and Hope Dector. Audio editing by Lewis Wallace. Artwork and photographs by Sarah-Jane Rhee, Nicole Harrison, Molly Crabapple, Dignidad Rebelde, Erin K. Wilson, and Micah Bazant. Created by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and Survived and Punished.

The Barnard Center for Research on Women engages our communities through programming, projects, and publications that advance intersectional social justice feminist analyses and generate concrete steps toward social transformation.

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