Release Woman Imprisoned for Sending Her Son to School

Target: Dannel Mallow, governor of Connecticut

Goal: Pardon woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for enrolling her son in a public school outside her former district

Every American child has the right to a quality public education and the potential for a bright future. Unfortunately, too many families face unthinkable odds in the simple struggle to allow their children to learn and grow. A mother in Connecticut was recently sentenced to 5 years in prison for the crime of enrolling her 6-year-old son in a school outside her district. Tonya McDowell, who was homeless at the time, used a babysitter’s address to enroll her child in a Norwalk kindergarten. Even though she had no permanent address at the time, authorities claim she should have enrolled the boy in Bridgeport, where she last lived. Urge the governor of Connecticut to overturn McDowell’s sentencing and forgive her for the “crime” of sending her son to school.

Educational inequality between districts is pronounced in states like Connecticut, where many children are forced due to their location to attend underfunded schools. Police claim that McDowell “stole” a total of $15,686 of educational services, even though a free public education is a right guaranteed to every American child. She was also convicted of selling narcotics.

The charges against Tonya McDowell are ridiculous. No mother should be separated from her child simply for attempting to secure him a brighter future. Call for McDowell to be released and reunited with her son immediately.


Dear Governor Mallow,

A mother in Connecticut was recently sentenced to 5 years in prison for the crime of “stealing” free education. Tonya McDowell was living in a van and with friends when she enrolled her son in a Norwalk kindergarten, hoping to ensure for him a better life than the one she currently faced. But because McDowell’s last permanent address was in Bridgeport, authorities attested that her son’s enrollment was a crime.

Like any mother, McDowell just wanted the best education possible for her young son. She wanted to guarantee him a future off the streets and away from the hardships that she herself faced growing up. But Connecticut’s judicial system responded by separating the boy from his mother and denying him the right to attend school in a properly funded district.

McDowell’s prison sentence is simply unjust. I urge you to overturn her sentencing and reunite her with her son.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Matthew Paulson via Flickr

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  1. J Davidson says:

    Imprisonment is drastic for a woman who is trying to better the life of her child. What crime?

  2. Janet Kennedy says:

    This doesn’t make any sense, it says she was also convicted of selling narcotics. Well did she get 5 years for the misdemeanor of sending her child to the wrong school? or the felony of selling narcotics? If you are going to slip in a statement like “She was also convicted of selling narcotics.” Please tell the whole story, thank you.

  3. Gladys Cattanach says:

    The real crime here is separating a child from his mother when she was only trying to do the best for him. Look at this law and see how wrong, unfair, and, yes, just how stupid it is. I would be embarrassed if I lived in your state.

  4. Is the USA turning into a police state? Since when is it a crime to want a better life for your child? The state of Connecticut should hang it’s head in shame!

  5. The state of Connecticut should be ashamed. People who torture animals only get 1 year goal time if they get sentenced at all. This women was sending her child to school and is goaled for 5 years and where is the boy now. I hope he isn’t in the foster system.

  6. KatWrangler says:

    A mother jailed FOR 5 YEARS, all because she wanted her son to have a good education and a better life.

    How can anyone “steal” something that’s guarenteed to every US citizen? Shame on you, Connecticut. What is THIS action teaching her little one?

    Please overturn Tonya McDowell’s sentence.
    Thank you ~PAW

  7. Governor Malloy,

    Pardon this woman. She has paid her price in humiliation. Her son is in jail just as much as she is! He needs her now! She is not a threat or evil. Let her go! I am a CT taxpayer and don’t want our money spent jailing this woman! It is ridiculous!, Please do the right thing, get her out!

  8. Justice without a heart is injustice.

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