CeCe McDonald, the Minnesota trans woman of color who was brutally beaten in a vicious hate crime but was jailed for fatally stabbing one of her attackers, was released early from prison yesterday, more than a year before the scheduled completion of her 41-month sentence.
Tony Merevick of BuzzFeed reports that McDonald will spend the remainder of her sentence under the monitoring of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. He continues:
McDonald, who identifies as female, was sentenced to 41 months in a men's prison facility last spring for the stabbing death of Dean Schmitz. McDonald and a group of friends were walking near a grocery story late on the night of June 5, 2011, when they were allegedly accosted by a group of people shouting racist and transphobic comments at them. According to McDonald's testimony, a fight broke out in which a bottle was smashed on her face and, ultimately, she stabbed Schmitz with scissors in what she said was an act of self-defense.
She was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and in May 2012, accepted a plea bargain with reduced charges of second-degree manslaughter. Throughout the case, supporters around the world rallied behind McDonald, calling her incarceration unjust and her placement in a men's facility discriminatory.
CeCe's murder conviction -- despite the fact that she was desperately fighting back in a situation where her own life was gravely threatened -- and subsequent misgendering and incarceration in a men's prison turned her into a symbol of the systemic injustices faced every day by trans women, and trans women of color in particular, both in the prison system and in society at large.
A documentary about her story, called Free CeCe, is currently being co-produced by journalist/filmmaker Jacqueline Gares and Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox. (Full disclosure: Jacqueline Gares is a personal friend.) For more information about Free CeCe, visit the project's Facebook and fiscal sponsorship pages.
A brief video of CeCe's release from prison is after the jump.