Click here to go to the Home Page Sabotaged Justice - The Other Side of the Tracks - By Perry Redd - BC Columnist

Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article
Bookmark and Share

High profile trials hold the front pages of America’s news media captive, but it’s more likely that the criminal justice system lacks the ability to hold high profile suspects captive. According to script, another white male escapes the grips of justice. As I watch American prisons filled with Black males - the guilty and the suspected - I’m none too cynical when another privileged accused rides off into the sunset, praising the operation of the wheels of the American justice system.

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards was acquitted two weeks ago of one count of political campaign corruption and a US District Court judge declared a mistrial on five other counts after the jury deadlocked in the “over-media-ized” case of the Democratic presidential candidate. Now, the word is that he won’t have to endure a re-trial on the deadlocked counts.

The traditional white establishment will punish their own for “insubordination,” but will more often than not, leave the door cracked for a way out

The jury couldn’t agree on the deadlocked counts because they said in a subsequent CNN interview that “the evidence wasn’t there.” What I know is that the evidence wasn’t there when conservative-leaning prosecutors went after Edwards to begin with. But what I know is that regardless of his political bent, he’s always going to be “in the club.” The traditional white establishment will punish their own for “insubordination,” but will more often than not, leave the door cracked for a way out.

Black men who survive a trial have a 97% greater chance of being re-tried. I bring to your attention the Fourth Circuit Federal case of US v. Hall (551 F3d 257). Christopher Hall and William Hardy were accused of a drug trafficking scheme, but the juries declared mistrials - three times! Then the government, in the Washington, DC courts, moved the case to Frederick, Maryland to finally - after two trials - finally secure a conviction. Why wasn’t double jeopardy considered in this 2009 case? Then, on top of that, this year, a memo was unearthed from the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s office revealing that critical evidence that likely could have acquitted them again, was destroyed! I read the memo myself: “She advised that once the Federal Government elected to prosecute the matter, the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office shredded the file, destroying the contents.” The Public Defender’s Office had copied the judge on the memo, dated December 3, 2004. Going to trial in January 2007, the men were convicted and sentenced to 300 and 360 months, respectively. If this isn’t intentional sabotage, then what is?

The late former Sen. Ted Stevens’ case received enormous press. The prosecution - the government - withheld evidence, which eventually led to his exoneration. Right after the trial he said to the press, “I haven’t been convicted.” He knew something the rest of us didn’t. The system did what it did and he denied it. In the case of Edwards, Marcellus McRae, a former Federal prosecutor, said, “The facts aren’t going to change; the law isn’t going to change…why should the outcome change?” If a Federal prosecutor knows this, then why do they re-try defendants? Is it because prosecutors change the facts? How is it we support the government getting a “second shot at the apple” when a citizen cannot?

I want those guilty individuals and their government cohorts in jail! Not that a few rich, white males don’t go to jail. The likes of former hedge fund manager Bernie Madoff (life), former Tyco CED Dennis Kozlowski (8-25 years), former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (6 years), former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (14 years), former Enron CFO Jeffrey Skilling (25 years), and the occasional Black official, like Prince George’s County, Maryland’s former County Executive Jack Johnson (8 years). What we know is that the few who do go to jail make up less than 1% of all convictions. Race is the issue at hand.

They are pawned out so that private prisons can reap the profits of inmate labor

The Department of Justice cites the fact that whites make up 708 per every 100,000 inmates in America; whereas Blacks are 4,479 per 100,000. You know why? It’s because somebody’s cheating! Someone, white males in particular, are subverting the system. I know about that…in my case - as should be with others, the court in the Sixth Circuit said that “upholding the plea agreement (leading to conviction) would seriously affect the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” Doesn’t anyone think that the public reputation is already impugned? Take for example, a judiciary that allows prosecutors to get away with concealing evidence, as in the recent case of Santae Tribble, who spent 28 years in prison for a wrongful conviction - the result of prosecutors withholding evidence. I repeat: I want the prosecutors to go to jail!

That sabotaging of justice won’t stop until the purveyors of this illicit conduct are made to suffer the same fate as those whose lives they ruin.

The sabotage has different faces, but is knit with the same thread of injustice and privilege. The onetime media mogul and now convicted felon, Conrad Black, left Florida prison last month after serving a 42-month sentence for fraud. I wonder how he got to be a mogul.

Sabotaging of justice won’t stop until the purveyors of this illicit conduct are made to suffer the same fate as those whose lives they ruin

What’s unjust is that as soon as he completed his sentence, he was swiftly whisked away - on his private jet - to Canada. No hearing, no nothing. Yet, there are hundreds of thousands of alleged illegal immigrants who won’t have that luxury. Black’s removal was expedited because he had his deportation hearing prior to completing his sentence. For the poor, they are denied hearings - though the law states each inmate is entitled to one - and furthermore, once their sentence is completed, they are committed to additional months, at an immigration detention center. They aren’t sent home to begin their lives anew, but are pawned out so that private prisons can reap the profits of inmate labor…such is your fate when you are poor. That’s what sabotage of “the system” looks like.

And as for John Edwards…I watched his press conference following his trial and he said how proud he was that “we have a system that works.” How insulting. Why of course it works - when you get off! For wrongly convicted people, people who have been cheated out of their Constitutional rights by unethical, dishonest and deceitful prosecutors, law enforcement officers and judges, the judicial system fails to work. Same system but it’s just that it “works” for the few who are either rich or privileged, or both. To make sure the system continues to favor the rich and privileged, those in position to do so sabotage the system for the rest of us. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, “The Other Side of the Tracks.” He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.

Bookmark and Share
Click here to go to a menu of the Contents of this Issue

e-Mail re-print notice
If you send us an emaill message we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold your name.

Thank you very much for your readership.

June 14, 2012 - Issue 476
is published every Thursday
Est. April 5, 2002
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble