Stacey Kananen has been found not guilty. Why does society continue to punish her? (Today’s blog is being guest-written by Stacey’s co-author/biographer, Lisa Bonnice. Stacey is unable, due the circumstances you are about to read, to do it herself.)
Over two years ago, Stacey Kananen was rightfully found not guilty of murder, by a jury of her peers. However, because she was forced to go on trial–on television–and her story is splattered all over the internet (go ahead and Google her name: here, I’ve done it for you) she is now unable to find a decent job or home.
After the trial ended, Stacey and her partner Susan then had to face another huge issue: Susan’s “stepmother” won a legal battle to take away Susan’s family’s business and their residence. They now had to find jobs and a place to live. Finding a job in today’s rotten economy is hard enough, but Stacey was faced with filling out applications that contain various versions of the question, “Have you ever been charged with a felony?”
These days, employers and leasing agencies all do background checks. Can you imagine being that employer or leasing agent, with a mountain of applications in front of you, being in the position of choosing the best applicants and seeing that one of them was charged with murdering her mother? That application is going straight into the trash.
Susan, on the other hand, qualifies for AARP. Doors are closed to her for that fact, alone (don’t tell me age discrimination doesn’t exist–I’ve faced it myself). So, in essence, they are screwed.
Before Stacey’s mom was murdered by her brother, and she was set up to take the fall for his crime, she and Susan had a nice life. They were long-time employees of Disney World, and they owned their own home. Through no fault of their own, their nice life was destroyed. Yes, there are many people facing the destruction of their nice lives, but these two face the added burden of societal prejudice against people who have been caught up in the justice system.
It makes me mad to see what’s happening to them. I’ve never seen anyone bust their ass at work like Stacey Kananen. I worked with her for many years, and her diligent work ethic, attention to detail, and willingness to go far above and beyond the call of duty, blew my mind on a regular basis. To see her continually judged and punished for something she didn’t do (I know she didn’t, and you will too when you read her book) breaks my heart. In fact, the reason I am even writing this month’s blog is because she has been evicted from her apartment because she can’t pay her rent. She’s a little busy right now, just trying to survive.
While she’s distracted by this drama that societal prejudice is inflicting upon her, she cannot focus her considerable energy on creating her advocacy program, Amnesty From Abuse. Abuse doesn’t just devastate the lives of people while they’re in it, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Her father has been dead since 1988, and yet she is still feeling the aftershocks of what he did to his family.
I pray that her suffering ends soon, so she can step into the role she should be playing: a vocal advocate for change. Please join me in those prayers.
Stacey M. Kananen
Advocate, Author, Abuse survivor
Co-founder of Amnesty From Abuse
Stacey Kananen’s father violently and sexually abused his entire family. He vanished in 1988 and 15 years later his wife went missing. Stacey’s brother had killed both parents. Stacey cooperated as a witness until he told police that she helped him with the crimes. She was arrested and her trial, which aired on CNN’s In Session, ended with a not guilty verdict after her attorney proved that she had been railroaded.
Now that her personal life is no longer private, Stacey is using her story to make waves. She and co-author Lisa Bonnice have signed a publishing deal with Berkley Books. They created the Amnesty From Abuse program to address the dynamic that stops families from asking for help: fear, shame and hopelessness. She states, “If a program like this existed during my childhood, both parents would be alive, my brother would not be in jail and my family would have been spared years of anguish and terror.”
Sink or Swim–the Stacey M. Kananen story (working title–Berkley Books, 2013)
BBC Documentary: America’s Child Death Shame