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Man with reduced sentence for killing abusive dad advocates for Oklahoma abuse survivors

Photo of Mulumba (Courtesy of AP).
Photo of Mulumba (Courtesy of AP).
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House Bill 1639 would give added protection to men or women who fight back against an intimate partner who is abusing them.

However, a mechanism in the bill that would allow Oklahomans already behind bars to apply for sentencing relief was removed before it passed the House.

One New York man who received sentencing relief, Mulumba Kazigo, was unsettled by this and reached out to NewsChannel 8 to give his insights.

Kazigo doesn't personally know anyone inside Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, Okla., but he feels connected to them.

"I know that there's many number of other women in that facility who have gone through much worse abuse than I have," he said.

Kazigo is “painfully aware” that domestic abuse survivors incarcerated across the country won’t be awarded the same sentencing relief that he was, depending on where they live.

Kazigo’s case was one of the first to test and to be granted sentencing relief under New York’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which allows the court more discretion when sentencing crimes that have been precipitated by domestic abuse.

He was released from Sing Sing Correctional Facility in 2020 after serving 15 years of his 20-year sentence, for killing his abusive father. After he was arrested in 2005, Kazigo’s siblings filed affidavits that supported his claims of abuse.

“What I've come to learn now is that many district attorneys and judges have developed a much better understanding of domestic violence and the role that it plays,” Kazigo told NewsChannel 8.

This legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers have been eyeing similar legislation. House Bill 1639 is not as expansive as New York’s DVSJA and had a retroactive component, which would have allowed those already incarcerated to have applied for sentencing relief, removed.

“Knowing that people who deserve this type of relief might be denied it, it's sad and it's painful to hear," said Kazigo.

Kazigo sees many issues with House Bill 1639.

"What is the difference between someone who qualifies for relief who has been sentenced after the bills passed and someone who's undergone similar abuse and responded to it in the same fashion,” he said.

“It's unjust and I think that it needs to be corrected.”

House Floor Leader Jon Echols told NewsChannel 8 that he supports making the legislation retroactive.

“It would still go back to court, it would still have a judge who would look at these things,” Echols said. "If we believe something is just it should apply to all people.”

Echols said any time a bill looks at potential criminal reform, it’s highly ‘politicized’ and ‘charged’ – something he admits to dealing with firsthand, for a bill he authored in 2019 which had a retroactive component.

“The other side of the argument is that it's complicated. We are talking about cases that have already been to trial, that have already moved forward,” said Echols.

With session winding down this week, Kazigo is hopeful that Oklahoma lawmakers will take his story into consideration.

Kazigo has also expressed remorse for the pain he caused and said that he has apologized to family members.

“Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could go back in time and address legitimate concerns I had with my father in a responsible fashion, " he told NewsChannel 8.

Kazigo regrets that the incident happened, as well as everything that led up to it.

“I wish that this hadn't happened," he said. "I wish that my siblings and I hadn't gone through the ordeal that we went through at the hands of our father.”

Kazigo has found purpose in helping others, predominantly those navigating the DVSJA in New York.

With Oklahoma on the cusp of passing groundbreaking domestic violence legislation, Kazigo said he wished that no one was left behind.

“I want a judge or a prosecutor to tell them that yes we acknowledge what you’ve been through," he said.


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