As US President Joe Biden spends the final days of 2022 vacationing in the US Virgin Islands, the White House has issued five full pardons to those involved in drug and alcohol-related crimes, as well as a sixth for a murder case.

That case, involving a defendant named Beverly Ann Ibn-Tamas, is credited with helping to understand “battered woman syndrome,” the term for a psychological pattern similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with survivors of domestic violence.

The “Battled Women Syndrome” is increasingly used to explain why some survivors resort to violence to protect themselves in situations that may otherwise not meet the legal self-defense threshold.

The syndrome, and similar concepts, have been invoked in several high-profile abuse cases, including that of a child sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown and Florida mother Marisa Alexander.

‘The first important steps towards legal recognition’

Ibn-Tamas was 33 and pregnant when, on February 23, 1976, she shot and killed her husband, neurosurgeon Abdur Ramad Yussef Ibn-Tamas. The incident took place at their home in Washington, D.C., which doubled as a medical office.

Prosecutors claimed the shooting was in retaliation, as Ibn-Tamas’ husband had threatened to throw her out of the house. But Ibn-Tamas consistently maintained that she feared for her life after being repeatedly physically and verbally abused by her husband before and during her pregnancy.

According to testimony reported in the Washington Post, Ibn-Tamas told jurors that her husband dragged her upstairs after an argument, where he beat her with a hairbrush and gun from a dresser in their bedroom. He ordered her to leave the house, she said, and when she didn’t, he returned to the bedroom and began attacking her, kicking her in the stomach.

‘I’ve seen the gun [on a dresser]” said Ibn-Tamas in the Washington Post. “He looked like he was going to pick it up. I picked it up and fired.”

She said she then tried to flee with her two-year-old daughter, but fired again when she saw him appear on a landing near the stairs. She feared he might have gotten another gun out of the house: β€œHe was like he was waiting for me. I just knew he had a gun.”

A White House statement on Friday explained that “during her trial, the court declined to allow expert testimony regarding battered woman syndrome.” She was sentenced to one to five years in prison.

Ibn-Tamas appealed, with leading domestic violence expert Lenore Walker testifying on her behalf.

“Ma’am. Ibn-Tamas’s appeal was one of the first significant steps toward judicial recognition of the battered woman syndrome, and her case has been the subject of numerous academic studies,” the White House added.

The statement also said that Ibn-Tamas, now 80, became director of nursing at an Ohio-based health care company. Both of her children grew up to get higher degrees.

Changing attitudes towards drug convictions

Friday’s pardon signals an ongoing shift in the US’s attitude toward domestic violence survivors and those convicted of drug possession.

Among those also pardoned was an army veteran from Dublin, California, who pleaded guilty to marijuana trafficking conspiracy at age 23, though “his involvement was limited to serving as a courier on five or six occasions,” according to the White House.

Another recipient, a U.S. Air Force serviceman who remains on active duty, was convicted of consuming ecstasy and alcohol at age 19 while serving in the military.

A third man was pardoned for charges related to renting out a house that was then used to grow marijuana, though he “played no part in the grow houses conspiracy”.

Two more pardons were granted, one for a South Carolina man who was “involved in a single illegal whiskey transaction” at age 18 and another for an Arizona man who used a telephone “to make an unlawful attempt at age 22.” cocaine transaction”.

The Biden administration has made tackling low-level drug arrests a priority in its leniency decisions.

Criminal justice groups have long pressured the Biden administration to speak up the long-term effects of the so-called War on drugs, an American campaign that began in the 1970s to tackle drug abuse. The result was a dramatic increase in arrests, which increased the prison population disproportionately affected African American communities.

Biden has the first pardon of his presidency in April this year, with two of the three original pardons being used to address drug-related convictions.

He has since continued to publish a sweeping pardon in October to those convicted on federal charges of “simple possession of marijuana,” referring to marijuana owned for personal use, with no intent to distribute.

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By wy9m6

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