Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Monday, April 9, 2007

Local News Finally Gives Shaquanda Cotton Front Page Status

After nearly month after the story of Shaquanda Cotton broke in the Chicago Tribune, Fort Worth Star-Telegram finally got around to featuring it as its lead story.

Re: A movement for justice for Black people within American legal system.

Francis L. Holland Blog writes:

If there's anything Black people have in common in America, it's that we are all concerned about someone who is accused, incarcerated, on probation or parole, and who has, in many case, lost the right to vote to change the system.

When Black blogs united to successfully achieve the release of Shaquanda Cotton, we discovered that there were at least 550 other mostly minority youths in the Texas correctional system whose sentences had already expired and who were being unjustly detained.

We need to encourage the mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands and friends of accused Blacks to (1) start blogs on behalf of the accused, and (2) link those blogs with others to develop the power to release those who are being unjustly held, and to prevent the imprisonment of those who are, or may in the future be, unjustly accused.

I have been thinking about this idea for a while as a way of organizing and radicalizing Black people in the United States to come out of our slumber and defend ourselves. Any one of us could be Shaquanda Cotton tomorrow, and the organization we build today may save our lives next week. Francis L. Holland Blog

Exodus Mentality, a tax lawyer, responds:

…If this BASG thing catches on, somebody is going to get overwhelmed. But it absolutely has to be a function of the AfroShere community… acts as an information center for us and by us... we set the agenda in this community.

One of those agendas has to be addressing the fact that we are being fed indiscriminately to the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). It can't just be for children, because so many of our adult brothers and sisters are rotting away in the PIC.

Some folks are already saying we are soft on crime, and criminals deserve what they get from the justice system. For me it's not about being soft on crime, it's about being honest about structural inequality in the system that results in disparate treatment...

I have a cousin who is serving 10 years in prison because he got into a car that someone else stole… they say he can get out in 2015, but he has been steadily getting worse as a consequence of the inhumane conditions that are the hallmark of a for-profit PIC. He'll be lucky to survive 10 years, or if he doesn't get more time for troubles inside.

All of these types of cases need to be addressed. The question is, can we summon enough fervor to have the same effect that we had in Shaquanda's case, considering the sheer weight of the number of cases we will hear of, and the fact that many of them will not be as obviously unjust as her case was.

But what the hell, let's do it anyway.

Jared, another Afrosphere blogger writes:

I agree that there is a time for black bloggers to come together. It’s no secret that there is no relevant black political movement happening at this moment. The opportunities for secular young blacks, such as myself to take part in a broader black political movement are almost non existent. And if one does exist, it’s hard to argue that its at all relevant to the national discourse and affecting change in this country.

So I want to join the calls and more importantly the actions that will lead to the creation of the black progressive movement. As Fields’ mentioned in his post, the internet offer that opportunity. We need only look to the success that the “majority population” progressive blogosphere, to see that an internet based model can be effective, in changing the political landscape.

Eddie Griffin Commentary:

Some call BASG the Internet Civil Rights Revolution, a continuous online forum of mostly black bloggers responding to the plight of the incarcerated poor. By spreading the word and initiating action, the Internet Civil Rights Movement helped win the release of Shaquanda Cotton and some 500 more youthful inmates. Through revelations, we later found the Texas juvenile justice system laden with racism at the top and corruption at the bottom.

But allegations of racism can easily be denied by defenders of the system, and allegations of corruption portrayed as isolated, not systematic. The tax lawyer above notes that “we are being fed indiscriminately to the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).” But how is the burning question? And, what is this PIC?

Recently, I began a series about the economic interest in imprisonment, drawn mainly from a reaction to Texans who are trying to preserve Texas Youth Commission prison facilities in their area. These prisons mean jobs, business for local restaurant and motel, new construction, vendor contracts, federal census allocations of funds, etc. Yet it is hard for people to see that these local communities have a vested interest in keeping the prison system growing, even at the expense of justice.

This is where racism comes in, because a large percentage of the prison population is African-Americans. The higher the security prison, the larger the concentration of blacks- which suggests that blacks are punished more often and more severely.

Shaquanda Cotton’s case is a cause celebre for African-Americans because people can see a direct line from the schoolhouse to the courthouse to the jailhouse for black youth, even a first time offender. At the end of the juvenile justice process is incarceration inside a TYC prison, which is now discovered as a sexual paradise for pedophile officials, who used their influence to lengthen or shorten juvenile sentences, who use intimidation against staff, exploit inmate-on-inmate violence and rape to promote their perverse sexual appetites.

Investigators deployed across the state this week will confront hundreds of sexual abuse allegations against guards from every Texas Youth Commission prison, documents released to The Dallas Morning News show.

Juvenile inmates have filed more than 750 complaints of sexual misconduct against correctional officers and other TYC employees since January 2000, according to a compilation provided to The News.

The complaints range from the relatively benign – such as flirting or suggestive letters – to rape. They come from all 13 TYC prisons.

TYC officials who originally investigated the allegations said they were able to substantiate only 88 of them. They acknowledge, however, that the actual count of legitimate complaints is far higher. Dallas Morning News

If it were not so, I would have told you. From one high-level prison official, the Texas Rangers seized sex toys, pornographic magazines and movies, lotions and lubricants, and other paraphernalia used to corrupt the minds of children in their custody and undermine their resistance to homosexual come-ons. [See attached Rangers Investigation]

Putting pedophile officials in charge of a male youth prison facility is like putting a racist on the justice bench or a prosecutor in charge of a lynch mob.

Rachel Muhammad wrote:

Peace and Greetings, I have a question for you. I don't know if your familiar the Michael McDade Case. The sister Gwen McDade with Fort Worth MMM who had mentioned her husband being wrongly convicted of a Bank Robbery in Fort Worth . He highly states his innocence, and has written me several times to help get his case out in the public. Darwin Campbell with African American News&Issues has stated that he would write an article about his case. It has been over 8 months still no response.

My question is: How do you get his case out in the public? What other avenues can assist him on his innocence? Would you be interested in hearing his story and writing an article about his case? I really would like to help him, however I'm not experienced in getting this type of information out the public concerning this type of case. I really would appreciate your advise and expertise on Michael McDade's Case.

I read the article about Shaquanda Cotton, and it deeply hurts me that this old mentality and corrupt justice still goes on, now going after our youth to house them in the prison system to break them and make them modern day slaves. I pray that justice will be done for her and that she is soon released.

I appreciate your articles, please continue to email them to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my message.


Eddie Griffin Commentary:

Dear Rachel, The above forum has been created for cases like the one you described. I would hope that you supply us with the particulars of the McDade Case. I have also provided information below about the Innocence Project, which has been instrumental in freeing a number of wrongly incarcerated individuals. Within the past year or so, the Project has helped win the release of a dozen prisoners from Dallas County, most of whom spent years incarcerated for crimes they never committed.


The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal clinic affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and created by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld in 1992. The project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. As a clinic, law students handle case work while supervised by a team of attorneys and clinic staff.

Judge Clears Dallas Man’s Name After 24 Years

Today in Dallas, Innocence Project attorneys and Dallas County prosecutors presented evidence proving that James Curtis Giles did not commit a rape for which he was convicted in 1983. He is the 13th Dallas County man to cleared by DNA testing. Dallas has had more convictions overturned by DNA testing than any other county in the U.S. INNOCENCE PROJECT

Most of our clients are poor, forgotten, and have used up all legal avenues for relief. The hope they all have is that biological evidence from their cases still exists and can be subjected to DNA testing. All Innocence Project clients go through an extensive screening process to determine whether or not DNA testing of evidence could prove their claims of innocence. Thousands currently await our evaluation of their cases.

DNA testing has been a major factor in changing the criminal justice system. It has provided scientific proof that our system convicts and sentences innocent people — and that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events. Most importantly, DNA testing has opened a window into wrongful convictions so that we may study the causes and propose remedies that may minimize the chances that more innocent people are convicted.

As forerunners in the field of wrongful convictions, the Innocence Project has grown to become much more than the "court of last resort" for inmates who have exhausted their appeals and their means. We are a founding member of The Innocence Network, a group of law schools, journalism schools and public defender offices across the country that assists inmates trying to prove their innocence whether or not the cases involve biological evidence which can be subjected to DNA testing. We consult with legislators and law enforcement officials on the state, local, and federal level, conduct research and training, produce scholarship and propose a wide range of remedies to prevent wrongful convictions while continuing our work to free innocent inmates through the use of post-conviction DNA testing.

We hope that this site will raise awareness and concern about the failings of our criminal justice system. It is a facet of our society that eventually touches all of its citizens. The prospect of innocents languishing in prison or, worse, being put to death for crimes that they did not commit, should be intolerable to every American, regardless of race, politics, sex, origin, or creed.

Innocence Project
100 Fifth Avenue , 3rd Floor
New York , NY 10011

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