Mulumba Kazigo was one of the first recipients of sentencing relief through New York's Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence for killing his abuser.
Related to: Sentencing Reform, Incarceration, Gender Justice
Mulumba Kazigo is a student, accomplished pianist, Habitat for Humanity supporter, and dedicated Quaker. He served 15 years of a 20-year sentence in New York State after being convicted of first-degree manslaughter for the killing of his abusive father. Kazigo was one of the first recipients of sentencing relief through the DVSJA.
Abuse was ever-present in Kazigo’s home throughout his childhood. Kazigo’s father severely beat Kazigo and his siblings, and his father’s prestigious reputation as a doctor left the family isolated and afraid to seek help. When 26-year old Kazigo discovered that his father had plans to severely harm his mother, he killed him to protect her.
After his arrest, Kazigo’s siblings filed affidavits confirming the abuse the entire family had suffered. The original charge of second-degree murder was pleaded down to manslaughter, but Kazigo was still sentenced to 20 years in prison. Despite the severe sentence and horrific conditions of incarceration, he found purpose in Sing Sing Correctional Facility’s Carnegie Hall music program and his monthly $5 donations to Habitat for Humanity from his meager prison pay.
In May 2019, the DVSJA went into effect, and Kazigo applied for resentencing with the help of the law library clerk at Sing Sing, legal advocates from the Nassau County Legal Aid Society, and Brooklyn Law School’s Criminal Defense and Advocacy Clinic. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office joined in the application saying, “The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act was written to help survivors of abuse like Mulumba Kazigo, who are imprisoned for protecting themselves.” On August 26, 2020, he gained his freedom. Today, Kazigo finds joy in the simple tasks of everyday life. On his daily walks, he reflects on those he left behind, “I am painfully aware of those who deserve the justice I received.”