Texas Contemplating Mass Releases Of Improperly Imprisoned Juveniles

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.

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7 Responses to Texas Contemplating Mass Releases Of Improperly Imprisoned Juveniles

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  4. 4
    Sailorman says:

    well, THAT’S an improvement.

    nice.

    (not “nice” because it should be a problem in the first place, but “nice” in that it’s being fixed.)

  5. 5
    Myca says:

    Well thank freaking god. This can’t possibly come soon enough.

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, the ongoing double standard when it comes to teenagers sickens me. The idea that teenagers are children when they want their basic human rights or they want to have sex with someone, but (WHOOPS!) they’re adults when we want to toss them in jail for a decade or more speaks to a deep dysfunction in our country.

    —Myca

  6. Pingback: Pacific Views: Shaquanda Cotton Freed

  7. 6
    Angela Johnson says:

    This whole system makes my blood curdle, I live in Williamson County Texas and in the same year (2006)my then 13 year old son who was attending a school for children with diagnosed extensive mental/behavior problems was arrested for swearing at a teacher. My son was not released until May 25th of 2008 spending all this time in TYC for swearing. Now last I checked persons diagnosed with Bipolar much less Schitzo-Affective (meaning bipolar traits and schitzophrenia traits present in his case in high instances)swear from time to time.
    The 7 boys in the class were playing a game of basketball, when my son missed his layup shot and the ball bounced off the rim and hit another student. My son quickly responded with an apology,to which the teacher(who was probably tired or just fed up with his students said according to the other 6 class mates) responded …”you are nothing but a f*%k up! All you do is cause trouble!” My son responded “f-you”; and went inside, where moments later he was arrested. My son didn’t come home again for almost 3 years. He was allowed to discontinue his meds, leading to a constant state of mental crisis, and 4 hospitilaztion while in custody for suicide attempts.
    Previously in the school year I was called to the school by a police officer(on a thursday) who had been called out to arrest my son off the school bus for spraying on AXE body spray. The officer told me infront of the Principal and bus driver who all were in the principals office by the time I arrived, that the most he could do was issue a citation and even that would not hold water. The officer explained that spraying body spray was not a crime, and he is not sure why they would treat him the way they were before my arrival. The officer further told me in confidence outside clearly they dis like my son and to get him out of there, and the next monday my son was gone.
    Needless to say I know homeschool my son, but he longs to be in school again, but unlike MS, or other physical disabilities; mental illness is invisble and most officials if you can not see it, it isn’t real! They believe the person needs a firm hand and they will stop. The teacher at the center of all of this once told me if I just disciplined my son more, he would stop hallucinating. I said ” are you serious?” This has been ongoing since he was 5 years old and he has two paternal relatives we have discovered with the same disorder but you think a good whack should fix it!
    I really hate the way these kids get treated… they have a better chance at rehabilitation, yet there are no bonds and stiffer sentencing for them than adults????