Joanne Little is a 20-year-old black woman, NEWSWEEK says, "small, shy and black." She sits in a cell at the North Carolina women's prison in Raleigh, charged with the first degree murder of Clarence Al ligood, a white jailer who tried to rape her.
Joanne's defense has developed into a national effort, lead by women's and civilrights organizations. Last Week, in Washington D.C., singer Gil Scott-Heron headlined a Joanne Little benefit concert, a group of citizens in the University of North Carolina community at Chapel Hill have pledged their property to free her on bond. The Southern Poverty Law Center, headed by State Senator Julian Bond has begun a big direct-mail campaign seeking money needed to hire defense criminologist and jury-selection experts.
Joanne admits to fatally stabbing the jailer, but only after he threatened her with an ice piek and tried to rape her. The dead jailer Alligood was found in Joanne's cell, naked from the waste down. The autopsy report showed signs of sexual activity just before the jailer's death. It also determined that a wound on his thigh indicated that he was not wearing his trousers during the struggle. Strangely, the autopsy report was not made known to the grand jury that indicted Joanne.
Locally, a Joanne Little Defense Committee is being organized. You can get further information by writing 1409 Beechwood, Ann Arbor, Mich,.-48103.