Sunday, October 19, 2008

Justice Blinded

I'm gonna' let KellyBelle talk:

October 19, 2008
Justice Blinded
OMG, it is a struggle to get to blogger. I think it's my ancient computer--oh, to have a working laptop and Internet connectivity at the same time!

There's a great article on racial inequities in the legal system front page of the Plain Dealer. I'm looking for the accompanying picture because it's so striking, but all I can find on line in the paper's endorsement of Obama. If I were a better playwright, I'd know dramatic irony when I see it.

Oh, wait, here it is. We're on the precipice of possibly electing a Black man for president, and, yet, our legal system is fugged up.

Dontez here, is 20. Stopped for unlighted license plate. Pled guilty after police found one rock of crack. Prior record: vandalism as a juvenile. Not granted intervention. Is now a FELON.

Anthony is 22. Stopped for jaywalking. Pled guilty after police found one rock of crack cocaine. Prior record: none. Not granted intervention. Is now a FELON.

Brian is 38. Stopped after car chase. Police found four rocks of crack, three crack pipes, and 10 crack pipe filters under the driver's seat. Prior record: Robbery charge reduced to misdemeanor assault; a year earlier, Biddulph had been charged with robbery--a felony--for stealing three small bottles of Merlot and some cold medicine, then trying to run down a security guard and nearly striking a store detective with his car as he escaped down Detroit Avenue, laughing and giving store officials "the finger" as he pulled away. Granted intervention. Is NOT a FELON.

Danielle is 20. Arrested after traffic stop. Pled guilty after police found marijuana and two bags of crack. Prior record: In 2003, Brewster was arrested along with her mother and her mother's boyfriend for beating and robbing a 12-year-old girl. The boyfriend held the 12-year-old up against a fence, according to court records, while Brewster, then 17, repeatedly punched her in the face and then stole a gold necklace from around her neck. The victim suffered a broken nose, swollen black eye and bruises on her back. The mother and boyfriend both pleaded guilty to felonies. Brewster admitted to reduced charges of theft and aggravated assault in Juvenile Court. Granted intervention. Is NOT a FELON.

Damn. I fear Black people will say "Tell us something we don't know, Kellybelle," and white people will glance at the pictures on the front page, assume Dontez and Anthony attacked Brian and Danielle, then turn to the sports section to see how Ohio State did.

For me, one big takeaway from this is how important it is that we in the African American community educate ourselves about mental illness. Psychologically-whole people don't need mind-altering substances. Something's wrong if you've got to get high to get by--depression, PTSD from abuse, bi-polar disorder, something. But that fact is more likely to be recognized in the case of white defendants than Black defendants--hence, the granting of interventions. It's as if white drug abusers are seen as basically good people in bad circumstances, while Black drug abusers are seen as just criminals.

Once we educate ourselves about mental illness, we can then advocate for a justice system that recognizes our humanity. We can motivate our community to vote for judges who support rehabilitation and intervention for first time offenders and mental health courts for those who qualify.
Posted by Kellybelle at 5:22 AM 0 comments
Labels: legal system, Mental Illness, racial disparity,Jus

You know what's bad , I couldn't post the photos she had. It makes it look worst.


kathy said...

hey your right, the pictures shout it out loud and clear.

kid said...

Hey Kathy, you're deep,seriously. Did ya like Ernie.?

kid said...

Earnie Isley?