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rape by adults. While Alexis spent the rest of her teenage years behind bars, that was changing, as judges, prosecutors and police officers were educated on what sex trafficking in the United States almost always looks like: not parking lot kidnappings or smuggling over borders, but the vulnerable being groomed by someone they trust. Just as Alexis had described.
Across the country, courts are grappling with whether to punish or protect children who are both perpetrators of serious crimes and victims of sex trafficking. In Alexis’s case, the abuse was disregarded — and she would always live with the consequences.
Now, after Kim Kardashian visited Alexis in prison, after a Republican governor acknowledged what she’d endured, after six years, five months and 13 days, she was crossing the parking lot, getting into a car and making sure she didn’t look back at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.
The car stopped outside the electrified fence, where the people who wanted to witness this moment were waiting. Her little sister, her childhood best friend, the advocates who had fought for her, all of them envisioning the life Alexis could have.
In her commissary-issued sweatpants, she started to run, threw her hands up and launched herself forward. Her fingers met the grass, her curls gave way to gravity and her legs spiraled over her head, exposing the ankle where, soon, a GPS monitor would be latched.
The state would be tracking her every second. The prosecutors were trying to put her on a registry of violent offenders. After she finished a five-month transition program, she would be on parole, being checked on and tested for drugs until at least 2034. Her record would always show a murder conviction, and all the limitations it would bring.
Her teenage plan to escape from the man she said controlled her had landed her in a cell for nearly a third of her life. Now Alexis’s freedom came with more controls.
Outside the prison, she landed in a split, and her supporters clapped for her.
“You are free,” they told her. “You are free.”
She stopped doing cartwheels. She covered her face with her hands and started to cry.
‘I set my dad up’