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Black women demand justice for Pieper Lewis

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, Polk County (Iowa) District Judge David Porter sentenced Pieper Lewis, a human trafficking and rape survivor, to closely supervised probation and ordered her to pay $150,000 in restitution to the rapist’s family. Lewis, a 17-year-old Black teen, was 15 when she killed the rapist. In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell issued the following statement in response:

“The conviction and sentencing of Pieper Lewis are beyond unjust; they are criminal. A Black teenager was trafficked and raped — those facts are not disputed — yet the American criminal legal system chose to prosecute, convict and persecute her for escaping her captor. The decision to prosecute Lewis and the subsequent sentence sends a clear message to Black women, girls and gender expansive individuals — the law will not protect you — and if you defend yourself, you will pay a high price.

“We demand justice for Pieper Lewis. She should not be required to pay — a ransom for her freedom to the family of the man who victimized her. In fact, she should be compensated for the crimes committed against her — both by the rapist and the man who trafficked her.

“This case is emblematic of the systemic racism that is the foundation of the criminal legal system. Police violence kills Black people every day, largely unchecked. Mass incarceration violates Black bodies and decimates Black families and communities while lining the pockets of the white criminal industrial complex. Prosecutors and courts terrorize and condemn Black victims instead of protecting them.

“We stand with Pieper Lewis and call on the governor of Idaho to issue a pardon that lifts this financial burden. That, at least, would be a step toward justice.”


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