Slide 1 – Introduction
The United States criminal law system has been plagued for years with unfair and biased cases that involved police officers, judges and attorneys. Many cases, which involved defendants facing years of imprisonment for crimes they didn’t even commit, were later acquitted of the crimes. One set of individuals known for their false arrest and conviction was the Central Park Five. In the 1980’s, five men were arrested near Central Park in Manhattan, New York and were subsequently falsely arrested and charged with raping a white woman. Another case of significance is the story of Kalief Browder, a young teenager from the Bronx who was accused of stealing someone’s backpack, arrested and locked up without being charged. He would endure beatings from officers and thrown into solitary confinement all while pleading innocent. These cases are just a small part of the legal system’s problems. Another troubling case involving a man who drives a school bus and rapes a 14 year old girl in upstate New York but received ZERO jail time in the case. This proposal is to support men and women who receive unfair law sentences and are jailed for biased purposes and reasons. We will discuss many similar cases that seem unfair and many people who will likely not serve one day of prison for their crimes. While finding a reason for such cases our main question is, why are courts rushing to convict innocent people and not eager to jail actual criminals?
Slide 2 – Stats
“As far back as the 1930s, a number of studies argued that there was clear and consistent bias against non-Whites in sentencing. 15 African-Americans represented 43% of arrests, 54% of convictions, and 59% of prison admissions for violent crimes in 1994 16 indicating that arrested African-Americans were more likely to be imprisoned compared with White-Americans. Additionally, between 1930 and 1973, Southern jurisdictions also put to death 398 black men and 43 white men for the crime of rape.”
Slides 3 & 4 – Central Park 5
On April 19, 1989, a New York City female was brutally attacked and raped white jogging in Central Park. During this time in New York, a string of violent attacks plagued the city and politicians and law enforcement officials were eager to put an end to the violence by rounding up multiple teenagers that were roaming in and around the park at that time. Five Black and Latino males, named Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Kevin Richardson, ages 14 to 16, were rounded up and questioned for the crime. Police used a tricky form of interrogation to get the boys to confess on video and the young men were prosecuted and convicted for the crime. There was no physical evidence linking the teens to the crime, and the woman, a 28 year old investment banker who came out of a coma after 12 days of the attack, could not identify them as the attackers due to memory loss. The pair of teenagers would eventually be let free after over 10 years in prison but the topic of unfair policing policies and biased court proceedings showed its ugly face to the public which we call today, unlawful law practices. Monica Erling states, “When the convicted youths were exonerated in 2002, the earlier debates were revisited. The case then brought increased attention to the problems of false confessions by adolescent suspects, police coercion, and criminal racial stereotyping.” In 2003, the five men sued the city of New York for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination, and emotional distress. In 2014 they received a sum of $41 million. This is an issue that occurred in the late 1980’s but the sad part is, it still continues till this day where young men are locked up for crimes they did not commit.
Slide 4 – Kalief Browder
In 2010, a 16 year old teenager by the name of Kalief Browder, was falsely accused of stealing someone’s back pack and was sent to jail for close to 3 years while awaiting his trial and pleading innocent in the case. Again, like the Central Park Five case, Kalief was unfairly stopped and frisked by police officers and blamed for the crime after being falsely identified by the Mexican man who was robbed for the back pack. While on Rikers Island, Kalief would endure the hardest of situations where he’d have to fight other inmates to survive and suffer beatings from correction guards. He would also spend time in solitary confinement for most of his stay at Rikers. Mental health physicians and experts believe solitary confinement is a form of torture. According to Bernice B. Donald and Marcus Gadson, “Solitary confinement is purposefully designed to minimize inmates’ human contact; often in fact, inmates remain alone in windowless cells 23 hours a day. The inability to see outside their cells enhances inmates’ sense of isolation. Inmates commonly have no access to books, television, radio, or magazines. Solitary confinement cells are typically the size of a bathroom.” After being released from jail, family members of Kalief say he started to act strange and would sometimes talk to himself. He would commit suicide by hanging himself outside his window and air conditioning unit. Many believe his death was caused by the issues he faced from jail and solitary confinement. If this can happen to a young teenager that didn’t even commit a crime, let’s imagine what would happen to a violent individual who preys on young kids?
Slide 5 – Shane Piche
In Watertown, NY, a man by the name of Shane Piche was convicted of raping a 14 year old girl who was a passenger on the bus he drove. After giving the girl alcohol and gifts, he invited the girl to his home and raped her. After pleading guily to third degree rape, the girl’s family urged the courts to jail the sexual deviant but instead was given 10 years of probation and no jail time. He would also have to register as a low level sex offender on the state’s registry. He was also ordered to not be in the party of a person as young as 17 and was forced to pay a fine of $1,425. The low sentence has enraged many people across the country calling the judge’s decision ridiculous and absurd. The young girl’s mother even stated to WWNY, a Watertown-area television station, “He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.” Shane is not the only individual who served no jail time and punishment from the courts after his heinous crime, there are many, others who got off clean.
Slide 6 – Nataliia Karia
A Minneapolis, Minnesota daycare owner was also sentenced to 10 years’ probation after being convicted of hanging a toddler in her basement. Although she spent 20 months in jail for the heinous crime while awaiting trial, she was eventually released on time served after pleading guilty to third degree assault and vehicular assault on a pedestrian, bicyclist and another driver after she fled the scene of the crime in 2016. After a parent dropped his son off at the day care, he went to the basement and found the young child hanging from a noose. The shocked father released the 16-month old child and escaped the house of horrors. The judge stated that the sentencing was so lenient due to her mental illnesses and labeled her as a low risk to reoffend. Nataliia, a Ukraine immigrant stated that her father abused her and this is the reason why she tortured the young child.
Slide 7 – Richard Wershe Jr. a.k.a. “White Boy Rick”
For those that believe these unfair law practices are generally targeted for a specific race, here is a slight description of a case that’ll force you to think differently about the country’s judicial system targeting only black and Hispanics with high and unfair prison sentences. Richard Wershe Jr., or best known from the movie that portrayed him staring famed actor Matthew McConaughey, Whiteboy Rick. Richard in the eighties was a 16 year old Detroit teenager who became an informant for the FBI in order to keep his father from facing jail time because he sold guns illegally. After the FBI and other local departments of law enforcement left him alone, he started to sell cocaine in the ravaged areas of Detroit. His home was eventually raided and he was arrested with possession of cocaine equaling to 8 kg’s. At sentencing, he was given life in prison for his corrupted dealings although many say it was severely unfair being that he didn’t kill or harm anyone in the process of his dealings. In fact, a hitman that was paid by local police officers got less time than Rick even though he was convicted of multiple crimes including murder. As reported by Keven Dietz, ““Thirty years ago Nate Craft was hired to kill the teenage drug dealer, known as “White Boy Rick.” Wershe has been locked up for 30 years for two nonviolent crimes. The retired hitman lives in Detroit. “Most of ya’ll may know me as Nate ‘Boon’ Craft, the Grim Reaper. I was hired to kill Wershe Jr., better known as White Boy Rick.,” Craft said. Craft has admitted to killing over 30 people, some friends, some enemies but most strangers to him.”” To say that Richard deserved to be sentenced to life due to nonviolent crimes such as sale and possession of cocaine is ridiculous, while people who commit murder, rape and abuse of children are let free.
Slides 8, 9 & 10 – Conclusion
In conclusion, countless American individuals have faced the same fate as the people mentioned, who face years of incarceration due to these unlawful and biased judicial sentencing practices. Only a handful of people have committed terrible crimes and walked in front of a judge to be sentenced to either small amounts of jail time or no jail time at all. This is a major topic to be discussed because we as citizens of this nation can face the same fate, whether it’s a confrontation with police that involves being stopped and frisked or being killed by a police officer’s service weapon. Many people in the past never even made it to a judge, instead was convicted to a death sentence before even reaching a police station. Emmitt Till was one of these individuals that didn’t get his due process when he was brutally beaten by white men for looking or whistling at a white woman. Countless others have been shot and killed by either police or local citizens taking the law into their own hands, such as Travon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr., etc., etc., the list goes on. We include these names because the question is, what’s better, getting killed for doing nothing or going to jail for nothing? Many people in our country who are celebrities have also faced unfair law practices but beat the cases by going to trial. One in particular is Snoop Doggy Dogg, arrested and charged with shooting someone, Snoop plead innocent and beat the case, avoiding jail time. Another is the producer and rapper of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Rza. The Rza was involved in a scuffle that left an individual severely beaten but like Snoop, Rza took his case to trial and was released on all charges. Our mission is to support men and women who suffer from unfair and biased jail sentences and to condemn judges, police officers and prosecutors who turn a blind eye on real criminals who are convicted of assault or rape and receive ZERO prison time. There is a strong disease in our judicial system that over looks real criminals where they say, this person won’t reoffend so it’s okay for them to return home and enjoy the rest of their lives. But what about the victims? This is really what we are fighting for in this presentation. No one deserves to be punished and tortured and receive no help from government officials who are paid by us, the tax payers. We should have a right in sentencings, maybe as an included vote along with the judge’s sentencing. The matter needs to be resolved right now so the people who are hurt by these criminals should never hurt again. The people who are falsely accused shouldn’t have to hurt either. There should be better rules in our judicial system where if a person is convicted of a crime, if there is no significant evidence linking the person to that crime then that person should receive no jail time, let alone years of incarceration. Things have gotten better but things need to still change drastically in our judicial system where judges, prosecutors and police officers need to be held accountable for their mistakes in sentencing innocent people and granting no punishment to others who commit violent crimes.
Williams, Dianne. Race, Ethnicity and Crime : Alternate Perspectives, Algora Publishing, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/citytech-ebooks/detail.action?docID=864150.
Created from citytech-ebooks on 2019-05-08 10:21:11.
Erling, Monica. “Central Park Jogger.” Encyclopedia of Race and Crime, edited by Helen Taylor Greene and Shaun L. Gabbidon, vol. 1, SAGE Reference, 2009, pp. 98-99. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.citytech.ezproxy.cuny.edu/apps/doc/CX3207900051/GVRL?u=cuny_nytc&sid=GVRL&xid=f610a7a6. Accessed 13 May 2019.
Donald, Bernice B., and Marcus Gadson. “Rethinking Solitary Confinement.” Criminal Justice, Summer 2016, p. 1+. LegalTrac, http://link.galegroup.com.citytech.ezproxy.cuny.edu/apps/doc/A557992002/LT?u=cuny_nytc&sid=LT&xid=48aea852. Accessed 13 May 2019.
WWNYTV 7 News. 25 April 2019 . <https://www.wwnytv.com/story/40371047/no-jail-time-for-ex-school-bus-driver-who-raped-student>.
Click On Detroit. White Boy Rick-Former Detroit hitman wants ‘White Boy Rick’ to be released from prison. 13 September 2018. 13 May 2019.
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