This is a pretty astonishing story. Rachel blogged recently about Shaquanda Cotton, a Black 14-year-old girl sentenced to seven years in Juvie Prison in Texas for shoving a hall monitor. Cotton’s mother is an activist who has often criticized the school system; her theory is that her daughter’s punishment was actually about punishing her for activism. If this new story is accurate in what it implies, Cotton’s case was part of a pattern. Shaquanda Cotton is, according to a Chicago Tribune story, one of the most likely candidates for release.
Curtsy to Chittlin’s and Chopsticks; head over there to read the complete story.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE UPDATE
Texas reviews scandal-plagued juvenile prison system
By Howard WittTribune senior correspondent
March 26, 2007, 8:02 PM CDTHOUSTON —
The sentences of many of the 4,700 delinquent youths now being held in Texas’ juvenile prisons might have been arbitrarily and unfairly extended by prison authorities and thousands could be freed in a matter of weeks as part of a sweeping overhaul of the scandal-plagued juvenile system, state officials say.Jay Kimbrough, a special master appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to investigate the system after allegations surfaced that some prison officials were coercing imprisoned youths for sex, said he would assemble a committee to review the sentence of every youth in the system.
The goal, Kimbrough said, is to release any youth whose sentence was improperly extended without justification or in retaliation for filing complaints. In his initial review of sentences, Kimbrough said, he had found many questionable extensions, adding that some experts estimate that more 60 percent of the state’s youthful inmates might be languishing under wrongful detention.
Such a mass emptying of a state’s juvenile jails would be unprecedented, experts said. Among the leading candidates for early release is Shaquanda Cotton, a 14-year-old black girl from the small east Texas town of Paris, who was sent to prison for up to 7 years for shoving a hall monitor at her high school while other young white offenders convicted of more serious crimes received probation in the town’s courts.
Again, Chittlin’s and Chopsticks has the complete story.