Color Blind Justice

Color Blind Justice

Adrienne BoettingerWednesday,23 December 2015

‘Tis the season to be thinking warm, fuzzy thoughts about our fellow man, peace on earth, good will to all, etc. But my cup of rage runneth over when I read two different stories of ‘Murican justice. In one corner we have Corey Williams: an intellectually disabled black man convicted of first-degree murder in Louisiana in 1998 at the age of 16 and sentenced to life in prison despite police and prosecutors knowing he was innocent. In the other corner we have Ethan Couch: a rich white kid convicted of intoxicated manslaughter in Texas in 2013 also at the age of 16 and sentenced to time in a spa-like retreat and 10 years probation for killing 4 people and wounding nearly a dozen more.

Of course their cases involve more than just race. Corey Williams is poor and Ethan Couch is so mind-numbingly wealthy that his defense attorney successfully got a psychologist to say the poor dear never had a chance to know right from wrong when he had been so wealthy and sheltered his whole life. Couch suffered from the debilitating disease of “affluenza” (AKA being a spoiled, egomaniacal brat). With his parents sheltering him from all things unpleasant, society couldn’t have possibly expected young Ethan to understand the wrongness of stealing a whole bunch of beer and slaughtering a youth pastor and other good Samaritans who had pulled over to help the driver of a car broken down on the side of the road.

So it shouldn’t surprise the same criminal justice system who let Couch walk free that his mommy dearest likely helped him flee the area a few days ago when he was suspected of violating his probation after an online video surfaced showing him playing a drinking game.

And what has happened to Corey Williams once the transcripts of his interrogation by Louisiana’s finest 17 years ago came to light? Once those same transcripts revealed that not only did the police know he was innocent of murder but that the testimonies of the other men accused, and witness statements, proved Williams was innocent? I mean once all those things happened you’d expect that of course Williams would be set free or at least be given the opportunity for post-conviction relief, right?

But then you’d remember that Williams was black and poor and intellectually disabled and you’d realize it’s far more probable that the presiding Louisiana District judge would say hells no. Thankfully, Williams’ attorney plans to press onward and upward for justice. It won’t give Corey back the almost two decades he’s lost in one of America’s worst prisons but justice delayed would be better than no justice at all.

For those arguing we live in a post-racial society and income inequality is Senator Bernie Sanders’ imaginative term for people not willing to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, tell me how Couch walks free and Williams — very nearly put to death — is sentenced to spend the rest of his life at the hellscape known as the Louisiana State Penitentiary?


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Image Credit: Mike Coghlan on Flickr

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