Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Writer's write. I had always heard that Black males were more likely to be treated unfairly by the American justice system. Since I always have tried to avoid any personal interaction with the justice system, I had no first hand knowledge of how true that statement was.  I had read news reports about various Black men having been released from jail after years of being incarcerated wrongly.  Some were in jail for over 10 years.  Then it came to my attention that the state of Texas had over 20 Black males who were released from wrongful jail sentences after their appeal found they were not guilty.  Some were released based on DNA evidence.

Then around 2005, one of my family members, a nephew in Dallas, Texas was accused of murder in the death of a teenage girl.  He apparently was misguided by his court appointed lawyer to plead guilty and was sentenced to life. There were other circumstances surrounding why he plead guilty which involved not being fully aware of his circumstances the day of the trial.  Only he and his lawyer likely fully understand those events.

Once incarcerated he began his effort for a retrial.  On his own, without legal help or family support, around 2008 he filed a series of writs seeking the State and Federal government look at his case again.  He discovered there was perjury by witnesses and police/detectives involved in the case.  There was no evidence that he committed the crime, and the prosecution had even ignored evidence that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed.

The State of Texas delayed reviewing his writ for 5 years.  He then sought relief through the Federal courts and was granted a hearing earlier this month in Tarrant County courts in Fort Worth, Texas.  A final decision on whether to retry his case or release him will be made in 4 months or less.  Over the past 8 years, he and I have corresponded via letters, and I visited him once in 2008 when he was in Tarrant County Texas going for an attempt at his first hearing to have his case reviewed.  That effort was delayed and not taken action on until 5 years later.

I recall that most family members ostracized him when he was sentenced.  Whether or not he got a fair trial was of no concern to theirs.  Family members simply believed that since he had plead guilty he must be guilty.  Once they saw an article in the Dallas newspaper regarding the sentencing, they wrote him off.  We all know now that our governmental institutions are not perfect.  They are run by people with various motives, some of those being unethical.  If you ever have a family member who finds themselves the target of the judicial system. always pay attention that your family member is given a fair trial before you condemn that person.

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