A Minor Technical Violation Sent A 76-Year-Old Woman Back To Prison

Open laptop
Zain Murdock
July 7, 2021

Thousands of people were released from prison at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gwen Levi, a 76-year-old woman sentenced for a petty violation decades ago, was one of them. Glad for the chance to go home, she rejoined her grandchildren and 94-year-old mother, and did volunteer work. 

And that’s where the problems began.

On June 12, Levi, hoping to find a job, went to a computer class in Baltimore. Focused on studying, she didn’t answer her phone for a few hours. Her supervisors reported it as an “escape!” 

So she was sent back behind bars.

Like many formerly incarcerated folks trying to rebuild their lives after prison, Levi says she was “attempting to do all the right things.” After a year outside, she was “devastated” that all her efforts came crashing down. But if they know she went to class, why was she reported?

“Because she could have been robbing a bank,” Levi’s attorney was told, “they’re going to treat her as if she was robbing a bank.” Huh? How does that make any sense? 

Thankfully, a judge decided to release her this week. 

At what point are we going to acknowledge how ridiculous the prison system is? It's so easy for this country to criminalize the smallest of things as formerly incarcerated folks try to rebuild their lives. A new system is long overdue.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: