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Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

The Board of Parole Hearings determined on October 29, 2008 that Ms. Connie Keel, W-16321, is suitable for parole, and I urge you to support this decision to release her. Ms. Keel has spent nearly her entire adult life at the California Institution for Women (CIW). She has served almost 30 years on a 25-years-to-life sentence for felony murder.

The night of the offense, Ms. Keel’s abusive husband pulled their car over to buy cigarettes, and then made a spur of the moment unilateral decision to rob a liquor store and kill the clerk. When Ms. Keel learned of his intentions she tried to dissuade him, but he pointed a loaded gun at her and told her to stay put. During the offense, Ms. Keel remained paralyzed in fear in the car, while her abusive husband and his violent cousin entered the liquor store to commit the offense. Ms. Keel never left the car, never fired the murder weapon, and did not commit the actual acts of robbery or murder which led to her conviction. 

The Board of Parole Hearings’ Battered Women’s Syndrome (BWS) Investigation found that Ms. Keel had suffered abuse since a very young age at the hands of family, neighbors, and friends, and continued to suffer physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband, Ricky Keel. The report concluded that the abuse which Ms. Keel suffered over the years prevented her from acting contrary to the orders of her husband during and following the commitment offense.

While at CIW, Ms. Keel has taken full advantage of the programs and training available to her. She has experience in a variety of employment settings and has attended many self-help, therapeutic, and religious groups over the years. The marketable vocational skills and self-help skills she developed at CIW will serve her well upon release.

Ms. Keel has grown considerably during her incarceration. Connie Keel is now a mature grandmother, with many talents which will be utilized effectively in the community, where she will make positive contributions to the lives of others. Her most recent psychological evaluation was very favorable, and found that she presented a low risk of danger to the community. I hope that you will recognize the impressive changes that Connie Keel has made during her incarceration and grant her parole. 

The parole board and others who know Ms. Keel agree that she is not a threat to society. She has strong support from close family members, including her children and grandchildren, and from her many friends, who are eager to welcome her home. Please use your power to free this battered, non-violent woman.



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