For a few now I've been preparing a post on the Shaquanda Cotton story and the power of the free press and coincidently, NS Shorty directed my attention to a similar story that ran on ABC's Primetime on 04/07 and I have to admit it's the perfect bookend to the Shaquanda post. So let's begin the sordid story with Tyrone Brown, a brother who was sentenced to life in Texas prison for testing positive for marijuana while on probation. At first glance you might say - 'Hey - don't mess with Texas! That's how they roll!'. But strip back the veneer on that nonsense and you'll see that justice in the great state of Texas ain't blind at all, y'all...
Recently released from prison on March 16th ('conditionally' pardoned from his life sentence by Texas Governor Rick Perry), Tyrone Brown is finally free from an ordeal that began in 1990 (ironically the same year Nelson Mandela was freed from his 27 years of bogus imprisonment) while out on bail from a $2 stick up, he violated his 10 year parole by smoking one joint. When appearing before original sentencing judge Keith Dean Dean sent him to prison...for life...with a curt "Good luck, Mr. Brown".
Tough judge, you say? Doesn't care for parole violators, you ask? Hardly. It turns out this same judge Keith Dean also sentenced northsider John Wood to 10 years probation but not for a $2 stick up, but rather for a guilty plea for shooting an unarmed male prostitute...in the back. Even after catchin' that gift, Wood repeatedly failed drug tests while on probation, yet did Dean send him to jail? No, my bizzle - "late last year [Dean] released Wood from most of the usual conditions of probation" (e.g. no more drug tests, no ban on firearm ownership and no more sit downs with his probation officer). Needless to say, Keith Dean is no longer a judge in the 265th judicial district having recently lost his bid for re-election. The voters have spoken but only after the press jumped in and pointed out Dean's inexplicably unjust sentencing standards. Without it, I'm pretty sure Tyrone would be starting his 18th year in prison trying to avoid the Tossed Salad man...
Similarly, about 100 miles northeast of Dallas lies Paris, Texas - the cheerful home town to the infamous Paris Fairgrounds, site of "several of the most notorious public lynchings of
Paris, Texas is also home to 15 year old Shaquanda Cotton who last year was sentence to 7 years for pushing a teacher's aide. The act was not disputed, nor was the teacher's aide injured by Cotton's actions, yet Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville saw fit to sentence Cotton (who had no priors) to a 7 year bid, while sentencing a 14 year old northside girl guilty of arson (burning down her family's house) to probation. In this case, Cotton was recently released after serving a year of her sentence - again primarily due to intense press scrutiny.
Now it's not too hard to draw a couple simple lessons from all this: 1) if you feel a need to get your swerve on, Texas is not the place to do it, particularly if you hail from the southside, and 2) y'all better be givin' it up to those press folks every chance you get since you're about one irate cop and judge away from a bid in the box your damn self.