Friday, November 15, 2019

She went to prison over her boyfriend’s child abuse. Thirteen years after he got out, she’s free.

By Reis Thebault
November 8, 2019

As a teenager, Tondalao Hall survived a violent relationship — one that ended only after she was arrested and imprisoned for not reporting her boyfriend’s abuse of their children. Now, after 15 years behind bars, she is free.

Hall’s sentence, issued under Oklahoma’s controversial “failure to protect” laws, was far harsher than the one given to her boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr., who abused Hall and her children. He served two years in jail. The disparity has been seen as an example of the criminal justice system bungling cases of intimate-partner violence.


Her release came a month after Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend her 30-year sentence for commutation. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) granted the request Thursday, ending a decade and a half of incarceration.

The case stems from a 2004 hospital visit. Tondalao Hall was 20 years old at the time, and Braxton abused her regularly — choking her, punching her and berating her with verbal attacks, according to court testimony.


In 2006, Hall was sentenced to 30 years after pleading guilty to failing to protect the two children from abuse. Braxton pleaded guilty to the abuse itself and was released on probation after spending two years in jail while the case was adjudicated.

Lambert said there are dozens of women locked up under the failure-to-protect law who have stories “frighteningly similar” to Hall’s — victims of abuse who are punished rather than helped. The charge is a felony that can result in the same sentence as child abuse: life in prison.


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