Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald Sentenced to 41 Months for Reduced Charge of Manslaughter
June 4, 2012
Supporters Vow Ongoing Solidarity with McDonald for Duration of Sentence
Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network, email@example.com, (612) 363-757 and Billy Navarro Jr, MN Transgender Health Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 823-1152
Minneapolis—This afternoon, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald was sentenced to a 41 month prison sentence by Judge Daniel Moreno. Although McDonald initially faced two charges of second degree murder, earlier this month she accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of second degree manslaughter due to negligence. The sentencing proceedings included statements from community leaders, clergy, and McDonald’s family, testifying to McDonald’s loving character and expressing concern for her safety if she is sentenced to serve time in a men’s prison, given the high rates of physical and sexual violence against transgender women in men’s prisons. Around 80 Twin Cities residents arrived to show their support for McDonald, overflowing the courtroom where sentencing proceedings were held.
Although McDonald has been under state supervision for the past 366 days (in jail and under in-home monitoring) the judge determined that she will only receive credit for 275 days served, excluding the time she spent on in-home monitoring. Between this time served and time off for good behavior, McDonald will likely spend less than two more years in prison. Additionally, McDonald was ordered to pay $6410.00 in restitution.
The Department of Corrections has not determined where McDonald will spend the remainder of her sentence, but it is likely that she will go to one of Minnesota’s men’s prisons. In recently released federal standards on the elimination of sexual abuse in prisons, the Department of Justice notes that transgender people should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to place them where they will be in the least danger (not solely based on genitals). Moreover, the DOJ guidelines seek to minimize the use of solitary confinement for the alleged protection of transgender prisoners. These standards apply to state prisons that receive federal funding. They may impact McDonald, who has been held in a men’s facility for the past year, and twice been sent to solitary confinement against her will.
For supporters, McDonald’s sentencing marks a turning point, but not an end to their efforts. “This is not a resolution to CeCe’s case: she should not be serving time simply for surviving a vicious attack. But the prosecution felt so much pressure in this high profile case that they knew they had to offer a less egregious charge than second-degree murder, ” said Josina Manu. “We’ll stand by CeCe throughout her sentence and after she’s released.”
Supporters have consistently rejected County Attorney Michael Freeman’s claims that the prosecution of McDonald is race and gender-neutral, emphasizing that McDonald’s attack and prosecution are part of a pervasive culture of violence against transgender women of color. They note that Freeman’s responses to CeCe’s broad support campaign only underscore the fact that the criminal legal system provides no real means of securing justice and community safety.
Roxanne Anderson, the Director of the MN Transgender Health Coalition and McDonald’s former employer, said, “Today was a shining example of how hate and fear result in racism and transphobia, and how those play out in the courts of our land. I hope people keep supporting CeCe in every way they can, including showing up to the Power to the People tent at Pride, which was created to squash this kind of racism and transphobia.”
Billy Navarro of the CeCe McDonald Support Committee reflected on the fight to free McDonald: “Our victory today is the beautiful community of support that CeCe has brought together. We will keep fighting back against the incarceration of our loved ones and community members. This June marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, which was led by trans women of color, and this year we’ll be celebrating CeCe’s courage and the struggles that women like her have led for decades.”
For more information on McDonald’s case, visit supportcece.wordpress.com.