Mandatory Minimums

To be thankful this holiday season is a time honored tradition. You huddle up with your family, argue, joke, eat some well prepared food and find your way back into the comfort of your regular lives. Marissa Alexander’s life for the past two years has been void of that.

Alexander is the Florida mother-of-three who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot against her estranged husband who threatened to kill her. In trial testimony, Alexander’s ex-husband Rico Gray, Sr. told the jury, “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her … probably hit her. I got five baby mammas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one.”

What makes Alexander’s case such a hot button issue is that its based on Florida’s already flimsy “Stand Your Ground” laws which of course came into national attention in the case of George Zimmerman. His trial ended in a not guilty verdict. Alexander, obviously threatened, was unable to use such defense and her case ended with her set to spend the rest of her life in jail. Florida’s laws concerning guns carry automatic minimum sentences under the “10-20-Life” provision. Considering that Alexander was charged with three separate counts, she was given a 20-year minimum sentence.

Until now.

Alexander is free on $200,000 bond under special provisions until her new trial starts in March. Her family, including her three children get their mother home for the holidays. So what is she thankful for the most? The ability to do what she couldn’t do last year — be home for the holidays.