Brown was a victim of child sex trafficking who killed her abuser.
Jeffrey Epstein was a billionaire serial child sex abuser. Both were
convicted and sentenced – in ways that demonstrate the profound
inequities of our criminal justice system.
December 6, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled
that Brown must serve 51 years in prison for the shooting death of
Johnny Mitchell Allen in 2004. Allen had paid to have sex with the
then-16-year-old girl; she purportedly killed him while in fear for
her life. She appealed her sentence as unconstitutionally harsh. The
justices unanimously disagreed.
who is black, was the subject of a 2011 PBS
It described how she was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, suffered
from a childhood of trauma, abuse and sexual and physical violence,
and was forced into prostitution.
a friend of President Donald Trump, served
just 13 months in a county jail work release program after being
of raping or molesting dozens of underage girls. He allegedly
recruited one of his victims, age 16, when she worked as a towel girl
at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
prosecutor, then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, crafted Epstein’s
inexplicably lenient 2008 deal, which has made
recently because Acosta went on to become Trump‘s secretary of
for two federal judges who has advocated for victims of police
violence, prison abuse, and wrongful convictions, I have viewed the
inner workings of the justice system. While people like to claim that
Lady Justice is blind, in reality her vision is clouded by racism and
the mostly white, male targets of the ongoing Mueller investigation,
accused of criminal activity involving corruption, election meddling,
money laundering and more. All enjoy resources, legal representation
and bargaining power that is wholly unavailable to, say, a young
black kid accused of dealing drugs. Even when other factors are
that prosecutors give better deals to white defendants.
white-collar crimes are perceived as less serious than street crimes,
even though the former costs
America $1 trillion annually, compared to $15 billion for the latter.
In a country where the poor are criminalized and viewed as dangerous,
the wealthy and powerful are often shielded
of the prisoners in the U.S. are people of color, most of whom are
poor. They must contend with such policies as stop-and-frisk, money
bail as a condition of pretrial release, court-appointed lawyers, and
education and justice systems view children of color as culpable
adults and deny them the presumption of innocence. Black girls as
young as five are perceived
as more grown up, less in need of protection and less innocent than
white girls. Black boys as young as 10 are regarded
as older and guilty, with dehumanizing racial stereotypes placing
them at risk of police violence if they are accused of a crime.
virtual life sentence for former child sex slave Cyntoia Brown stands
in marked contrast to the light slap on the wrist for billionaire
serial abuser Jeffrey Epstein. But it is not surprising in a society
that treats people differently based on race, class and gender.
fails to protect society’s most vulnerable, silences women and
criminalizes children of color, while letting abusive men of
privilege off the hook. Some point to these different outcomes and
say we are governed by a broken justice system. But is a system
broken when it works as designed?
commentary was originally published by Progressive.org