WOMEN
11/17/2014 06:45 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2014

How Some States Treat Battered Victims As Criminals

In several states, battered mothers can face up to life in prison if they "fail to protect" their children from harm at the hands of their abusive spouses, even if they themselves have never inflicted harm.

A recent Buzzfeed News investigation explores the cases of 28 mothers in 11 states, all sentenced to over 10 years of prison for failing to stop crimes committed by their abusive spouses.

Shortly after bringing her 20-month-old son to the hospital after noticing his leg was swollen, Tondalo Hall was arrested. She is now serving a 30-year sentence in Oklahoma, for allegedly "enabling" the abuse of her son and 3-month-old daughter at the hands of then-boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr.

Alex Campbell, an investigative reporter at BuzzFeed News who authored the shocking series, joined HuffPost Live on Nov. 17 to discuss how and why states have handed out harsher sentences for battered women than the men who beat them, citing Hall's case in particular.

"Eventually detectives concluded that Braxton had caused the injuries and that Hall had allowed the abuse to happen, and had failed to protect the children from Braxton," Campbell told host Alyona Minkovski. Hall pled guilty, but then-boyfriend Braxton moved forward with a trial.

"The case fell apart though, the prosecutors seemed very frustrated with Hall's testimony, saying that she was minimizing what had actually gone on in the home," Campbell said. "[Braxton] pled guilty to injuring just one child, and he took a deal with prosecutors where he would get two years in prison. Hall had pled guilty for allowing abuse to happen. The sentencing for allowing abuse to happen is the same as actually committing it. You can get up to life in prison."

Braxton served just two years in for breaking the child's ribs and femur. Hall still has 20 years to serve, but she is currently seeking clemency and women's rights group UltraViolet has started an online petition urging the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board to commute her sentence.

Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

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