Bernina Mata is a 52-year-old Latinx lesbian, and a queer criminalized survivor, who has been imprisoned for 23 years. She was convicted of capital murder, based on a fiercely racist, homophobic prosecution that argued her lesbian identity caused her to kill and ignored her extensive history of sexual and physical abuse, and sentenced to die in 1999. In 2003, her death sentence was commuted to life in prison as part of a successful clemency campaign that commuted all death sentences in Illinois. If prosecutors had not sought the death penalty, she would likely be free today.
Bernina’s only chance for freedom is to receive clemency from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. In January 2022, Bernina and her team submitted a clemency petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, who reviews petitions and makes recommendations to the governor. At a hearing in June 2022, Bernina’s team made the case for her freedom, accompanied by dozens of supporters.
Now, the decision is squarely in the hands of Gov. Pritzker. He has the power to commute her sentence to time served. Please Join us in calling on Gov. Pritzker to bring Bernina home for the holidays! Click here to send him an e-mail today.
Bernina's Freedom Team
A dedicated team is supporting Bernina's current effort to seek freedom through a clemency campaign. Including supporters from Love & Protect, People's Law Office, Rachel White-Domain and the Illinois Prison Project, American Friends Service Committee Chicago, a third year law student from NYU, and anchored by Bernina's long-time attorney Joey Mogul, we're working with Bernina to tell her story and win her freedom. Together, we'll give the Illinois Prison Review Board and Governor Pritzker the opportunity to correct the homophobic and racist wrongs she experienced. There are many ways to support Bernina's freedom, and we are especially grateful to the organizations that have signed on in support of the campaign.