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Unusual Punishment for Mychal Bell

October 12, 2007

From the Associated Press:

Mychal Bell of the `Jena 6′ Back in Jail

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A judge ordered a black teenager back to jail,
deciding the fight that put him in the national spotlight violated
terms of his probation for a previous conviction, his attorney said.

Mychal
Bell, who along with five other black teenagers in the so-called Jena
Six case is accused of beating a white classmate, had gone to juvenile
court in Jena on Thursday expecting another routine hearing, said Carol
Powell Lexing, one of his attorneys.

Instead, state District
Judge J.P. Mauffrey Jr. sentenced Bell to 18 months in jail on two
counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of
property, Lexing said.

"We are definitely going to appeal this," she said. "We’ll continue to fight."

Bell
had been hit with those charges before the Dec. 4 attack on classmate
Justin Barker. Details on the previous charges, which were handled in
juvenile court, were unclear.

Mauffrey, reached at his home Thursday night, had no comment.

"He’s
locked up again," Marcus Jones said of his 17-year-old son. "No bail
has been set or nothing. He’s a young man who’s been thrown in jail
again and again, and he just has to take it."

After the attack on
Barker, Bell was originally charged with attempted murder, but the
charges were reduced and he was convicted of battery. An appeals court
threw that conviction out, saying Bell should not have been tried as an
adult on that charge.

Racial tensions began rising in August 2006
in Jena after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering
spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from
the tree. They were suspended but not prosecuted.

More than
20,000 demonstrators gathered last month in the small central Louisiana
town to protest what they perceive as differences in how black and
white suspects are treated. The case has drawn the attention of civil
rights activists including the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Sharpton reacted swiftly upon learning Bell was back in jail Thursday.

"We
feel this was a cruel and unusual punishment and is a revenge by this
judge for the Jena Six movement," said Sharpton, who helped organize
the protest held Sept. 20, the day Bell was originally supposed to be
sentenced.

Bell’s parents were also ordered to pay all court costs and witness costs, Sharpton said.

"I
don’t know what we’re going to do," Jones said. "I don’t know how we’re
going to pay for any of this. I don’t know how we’re going to get
through this."

Bell and the other five defendants have been
charged in the attack on Barker, which left him unconscious and
bleeding with facial injuries. According to court testimony, he was
repeatedly kicked by a group of students at the high school.

Barker
was treated for three hours at an emergency room but was able to attend
a school function that evening, authorities have said.

Bell,
Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw were all
initially charged — as adults — with attempted second-degree murder and
conspiracy to commit the same. A sixth defendant was charged in the
case as a juvenile.

Bell, who was 16 at the time, was convicted
in June of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit
that crime. LaSalle Parish prosecutor Reed Walters reduced the charges
just before the trial. Since then, both of those convictions were
dismissed and tossed back to juvenile court, where they now are being
tried.

Charges against Bailey, 18, Jones, 19, and Shaw, 18, have
been reduced to aggravated second-degree battery. Purvis, 18, has not
yet been arraigned.

Associated Press writer Chevel Johnson contributed to this report.

Go to the Source:

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This is a disgrace.  After 10 months in an adult detention facility this judge does not have the decency to forgo his own prejudices and sends this youth back into the system!  I agree with Rev. Sharpton that this is cruel and unusual punishment pertaining to the law, but it is not unusual when the law is addressing a black male.  We have to instill into our young men that they want to the greatest extent possible stay out of this countries justice system. 

More problematic to me, is the fact that the case was again heard in LaSalle Parish!  Mychal Bell is looking at a consecutive sentence now.  That means 18 months for violating probation, but the Judge doesn’t have to enact the sentence until after the later case has been resolved.  So he’s looking at possibly more than 2 years additional to the 10 months he’s already served. 

It is evident to me that the Federal Justice Department needs to investigate the entire judicial system along with all its members servicing LaSalle Parish, because these racists are determined to send us a message and the canvas their using is Mychal Bell’s freedom.  If your wondering what the message is, it’s this: "JUSTICE IS TRULY BLIND".

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