Childhood & Early Life
Lynndie Rana England was born on November 8, 1982 in Ashland, Kentucky to Kenneth R. England Jr. and Terrie Bowling England. Her father is a railroad maintenance staffer who worked at a station near Cumberland, Maryland, while her mother works at a manufacturing plant.
Her family moved to Fort Ashby, West Virginia, when she was only two years old, following which they lived in a low-rent trailer park. It was revealed during her trial that she was diagnosed with 'selective mutism' as a child, and had a learning disability, but graduated along with the rest of her class despite that.
She studied at Frankfort High School near Short Gap and was also a member of the youth organization, Future Farmers of America. England wanted to get a college education and become a storm chaser. She did several odd jobs, including working as a cashier at an IGA store, when she was in her junior year in school.
Soon after leaving school, she found a night job in a chicken-processing factory in Moorefield, where she worked in 'spray down', evisceration and eventually in marination. Even though she worked for only nine months there, she liked her job and was very efficient at it, which helped her get promoted to the post of a trainer.
Within a few months of working at the chicken factory, she witnessed other workers breaking the rules, like putting dropped meat back on the conveyor belt. She complained about such incidents to her manager, but later quit her job after realizing that no steps were taken to prevent such incidents.
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Military Career & Conviction
During her junior year at school in 1999, Lynndie England signed up for the United States Army Reserve in Cumberland. In June 2003, she was sent from Kuwait to Iraq as part of the 372nd Military Police Company to be stationed at Al Hillah.
In October 2003, she and her unit were moved to Abu Ghraib to perform guard duties after a tenfold increase in the prison inmate count and none in stationed staff numbers. Janis Karpinski was the commanding officer in charge of the prison when England and her unit, led by Specialist Charles Graner, joined the facility.
On April 28, 2004, CBS News aired a special episode of '60 Minutes II', in which they revealed details of abusive behavior of several US military personnel, stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison. It also aired photographs showing physical and sexual abuse on the detainees and pointing to severe human rights violation. England was the primary figure present in most of those images.
The Abu Ghraib revelation was mostly based on the report submitted by Major General Antonio Taguba in February 2004, detailing "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses". While the conservative media in the US supported the soldiers in the ensuing scandal, President George W. Bush asserted that those responsible would be "brought to justice".
The Abu Ghraib pictures identified England, Graner and five other soldiers who were investigated by Taguba in late 2003 for inflicting sexual, physical and psychological abuses on the Iraqi prisoners of war. During their testimony, they defended their actions by saying that even before they entered the prison, abusive practices were already used to 'soften up' detainees prior to interrogation.
England, who maintained that she was goaded into appearing in the pictures by her then-lover and senior, Charles Graner, was at the time pregnant with their child. On March 18, 2004, she was transferred to the U.S. military installation at Fort Bragg, North Carolina because of her pregnancy, and was scheduled for court-martial in September 2005.
On April 30, 2005, she agreed to plead guilty to four counts of maltreating prisoners, two counts of conspiracy, and one count of dereliction of duty in exchange for two other charges to be dropped. However, Military Judge Colonel James Pohl denied her guilty plea in light of Graner's testimony, who was then convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
England was finally convicted of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act during her retrial on September 26, 2005. The following day, she was sentenced to a three-year prison term and dishonorable discharge of duty.
She was sent to Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar, to serve her sentence, and was paroled on March 1, 2007, after serving 521 days. She remained on parole till her sentence got completed in September 2008, before returning to her family and friends in Fort Ashby, West Virginia.
Family & Personal Life
While working at an IGA store during her junior year of high school, Lynndie England became romantically involved with one of her co-workers, James L. Fike. They got married in 2002, soon after graduating from school, but their marriage ended in a divorce a few months later.
Xavier Amador, the psychologist hired by her lawyers, claimed during her trial that she was a practicing Christian during the time of her marriage, but was manipulated by Graner in Iraq. Amador revealed that England entered in a physical relationship with her superior Graner and did everything she was asked to do by him. She was carrying his child.
She found out during his trial that he was also involved with another woman in her unit, Megan Ambuhl, to whom he later got married. He initially denied being the father of England’s son Carter, but later agreed for a DNA test to ascertain his fatherhood.
In her later interviews, England maintained that while Graner "wasn't ever violent, just manipulative", and as someone easily intimidated by authoritative figures, she was compliant to his wishes. In July 2009, she released the biographical book 'Tortured: Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib and the Photographs that Shocked the World', in a bid to repair her damaged image.
Lynndie England went back to live with her parents following her release. She found it difficult to get jobs except for occasional seasonal employment. However, she was appointed to the Keyser volunteer recreation board on July 9, 2007.
While she was in prison, her parents broke their 30-year-long marriage after her mother found out about his father’s 17-year-long affair with a local woman. While her parents later got back together, her mother's divorce lawyer Roy became England’s press agent after she was released from prison.