Organizational Description
The first and only organization to focus exclusively on battered women defendants, the National Clearinghouse has become a major resource, information, and advocacy center since we opened our doors in 1987. We provide technical assistance to criminally charged battered women, to their defense teams (attorneys, advocates, expert witnesses), and to other professionals and lay people across the nation. We conduct training seminars for members of the criminal justice and advocacy communities, and for the general public, regarding the unique experiences of battered women defendants. Our Resource Library contains the nation's most comprehensive collection (over 11,000 entries) of articles, case law, litigation materials, and legislation relevant to battered women who find themselves in conflict with the law. We have also organized a steadily growing network of individuals and organizations committed to justice for battered women.

We work with battered women who have been arrested and are facing trial, as well as those who are serving long prison sentences. Most frequently, these cases involve women who have assaulted or killed their abuser while attempting to protect themselves against life-threatening violence. We also assist in cases where women have been coerced into crime by their abuser, or are charged with "failing to protect" their children from their abuser's violence. It is not unusual for us to work on a woman's case for many years. We correspond with women who are in jail or prison, including those waiting to be tried, filing appeals, or applying for clemency. At this point, we are in touch with over 850 imprisoned battered women.

When battered women defendants contact us, many of them have been abandoned by their friends, families, and communities, and by the very social service and criminal legal systems that previously failed to provide them with assistance. They desperately need information, assistance, and support, and we work hard to provide them with an array of services. But we also understand that we need to challenge the attitudes, beliefs, and social constructs that produce policies and practices that put all sorts of oppressed people - including battered women - at great risk of being arrested and prosecuted. Through all of our activities we strive to address the conditions that create and support this kind of injustice.