An Oklahoma mother sentenced to 30 years in prison for failing to protect her children from child abuse is now a free woman.
Tondalo Hall was granted commutation by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, and she walked out of the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud around 11 a.m. on Friday, according to KFOR.
The case was noteworthy because Hall received more time than her children’s actual abuser, her then ex-boyfriend, Robert Braxton, Jr., who pled guilty to child abuse in 2006. Braxton was sentenced to 10 years behind bars. However, eight of those years suspended. At the time Braxton was sentenced, he had already spent two years in jail for the 2004 abuse, so he was allowed to walk free. Meanwhile, Judge Ray Elliot threw the book at Hall, according to Fox 6 News.
Part of that was Hall’s fault. The prosecution initially attempted to get Hall to testify against Braxton, but when she got on the stand, she lied, according to David Prater, Oklahoma County District Attorney.
“She got on the stand and completely lied about his involvement in hurting the children, and he was about to walk completely scott free,” Prater told Fox 6 last month. “She had entered a blind plea of guilty in front of Judge (Ray) Elliott before she testified, and he gave her 30 years when he saw that she had lied to protect her co-defendant.”
The ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter rallied behind Hall’s case last January and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform launched a campaign that faulted Oklahoma for the uneven sentences.
“The facts unavailable to the court at that time were the abuse that she suffered from Mr. Braxton. Mr. Braxton abused Ms. Hall physically, sexually, emotionally,” Megan Lambert, Hall’s attorney with the ACLU, told the Oklahoma Pardon and Review Board last month.
In 2004, Hall’s infant daughter and toddler son suffered broken legs and ribs at the hands of Braxton, their father. Hall was 22 years old at the time.
Lambert said Hall is relieved that her sentence was commuted.
“She was so relieved she was in tears today just at the thought that people in power were listening to her story and paying attention,” said Lambert to Fox 6. “She misses her kids dearly.”
Hall also thanked the board last month. “I just want to tell you guys thank you for allowing me to come this far in commutation. I’ve worked really hard to be the woman my children need me to be.”