Technology with attitude

More Racial Injustice in Prison Sentencing

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Yesterday I wrote about the disparity between America’s incarceration rate and the rest of the world.

Now I find this story from the Chicago Tribune about Paris, Texas

There was the 19-year-old white man, convicted last July of criminally negligent homicide for killing a 54-year-old black woman and her 3-year-old grandson with his truck, who was sentenced in Paris to probation and required to send an annual Christmas card to the victims’ family.

There are the Paris public schools, which are under investigation by the U.S. Education Department after repeated complaints that administrators discipline black students more frequently, and more harshly, than white students.

And then there is the case that most troubles Cherry and leaders of the Texas NAACP, involving a 14-year-old black freshman, Shaquanda Cotton, who shoved a hall monitor at Paris High School in a dispute over entering the building before the school day had officially begun.

The youth had no prior arrest record, and the hall monitor–a 58-year-old teacher’s aide–was not seriously injured. But Shaquanda was tried in March 2006 in the town’s juvenile court, convicted of “assault on a public servant” and sentenced by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville to prison for up to 7 years, until she turns 21.

Okay, got that? 7 years locked up in juvenile detention for shoving somebody!

Ready for the yin to that yang?

Just three months earlier, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl, convicted of arson for burning down her family’s house, to probation.

Try to read the whole thing. It’s extraordinarily troubling and speaks to just how far we have yet to come until we’ll be able to offer life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness equally in this country.