Two Sisters Released from Jail

January 7, 2011 at 7:45 AM 2 comments

This particular case of two sisters – African-Americans – in jail for life because of robberies committed at gunpoint, is interesting to say the least.  What I fail to understand is that groups like the NAACP were crying about the sentence vs. the robbery itself and the amount of money taken during the commission of the robberies.

Advocacy groups like the NAACP believe strongly that the sentence these women received far outweighed the actual crime, since very little money was taken from robbery victims.  However, there are two things that stand out in my mind:

  1. the women used a gun in the robbery(ies)
  2. someone could have died because of the use of a gun
  3. I did not read where any of these advocacy groups – including the NAACP – expressed any concern for the victim(s) in the case

Both women spent 16 years in jail, out of their full sentences of life in prison.  I don’t mind that the two women got out of jail.  Certainly, everyone should be given a second chance.  However, the concerns listed above seem to be absent from this case.  In fact, in the news stories I read prior to posting this, I did not see in any of them where the sisters expressed regret for their crime, or sympathy for the victim(s).  Yet, those within the Black community – and by the way, where was Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? – simply harped on how justice has not been served…for the sisters, believing their sentences were excessively harsh, based on the fact that such a paltry sum of money was gotten by the sisters.

The total sum of money is simply the luck of the draw for any criminal and they know that.  The sisters could have wound up hitting the jackpot by robbing someone who was very wealthy and by chance had a large amount of cash on him/her at the time.

As the sisters were seen at a press conference after their release, two comments stand out.  First, they were very excited at their release (and who would not be?) and said to the crowd “God bless y’all,” and followed that up with the desire to go clothes shopping.  Maybe the girls have changed and maybe not.  Time will tell, but as glad as they are to be out of jail for something they did do, it will be interesting to see if they wind up falling back into their old ways if/when things get tough.

Please don’t get me wrong.  Sixteen years is quite a bit of time to spend in jail.  I’m willing to bet that there are individuals in jail who have spent far more time than these women have, but who are actually fully innocent of their crimes.  Instead of arguing support for two people who actually did the crime(s), maybe we should be spending far more time in an effort to determine who among death row inmates is actually innocent of their crimes.  That’s the true travesty of justice.

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  • 1. Tatiana Weems  |  January 21, 2011 at 7:06 AM

    I partially agree with you. In this day and age we have the technology to free those in jail that actually are innocent, and we should be focusing on doing just that. But, the part about the NAACP is wrong. The sentence was harsh. Two life sentences because they hit two men on the back of the head with a shotgun and stole a whole $11.000 seems a little excessive. Now if they had shot the man, or left permanent damage with the shotgun then maybe. But that is a very small maybe. I’m not sure if you have noticed but there are two justice systems, those for whites and then another for minorities. Minorities get about double the sentence for crimes as whites, maybe this case was right, maybe these two women aren’t remorseful, but there are several things that need to be looked into, like equality in justice.

    • 2. modres  |  January 21, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      Hi Tatiana. Thanks for your comments. The problem I have is that the crime involved a gun. Whether they shot the individuals or not, what could have happened should be considered as well.

      I’m a volunteer chaplain at my local county jail. You would be surprised at how many white men are facing life in prison for their second or third DRUG offense. These men are scared and rightly so because of the time they are facing. Here’s just one example for you. A white inmate was awaiting trial for his third drug offense. There was no violence involved. He used drugs and was caught. While in prison, he got his life right with God and became a Christian. He did not expect that to have any impact on his case and it did not. Neither the judge nor jury would take that into consideration. Here in California, what matters is the law and which laws were broken. He shared with me how nervous he was because of the possible life sentence he was facing. Again, I would like to emphasize that there was nothing violent in what he had done. We prayed and he recognized that God was in control of his life now, so he literally placed his life in God’s hands.

      I saw him the next week and he was a different man. He was relaxed and even filled with a bit of joy. He did not receive a life sentence. He DID receive a 22-year sentence and he was HAPPY about that! He felt blessed! The following week, he was gone, having been transferred to Tracy, CA. He would remain there for a few months and then be transferred to another prison to live out his sentence. The only thing he wanted was to be sent to a prison that was close to his family. He was very concerned about what his incarceration was doing to them.

      I’m not sure that a blanket statement like yours can stand – “Minorities get about double the sentence for crimes as whites” – because based on my own experience with the inmates I routinely minister to, their sentences for drugs are unabelievable. Another inmate – also a Christian now – was on parole for drug use. He had a bowie knife in a proper holster on the outside of his pants. He was not doing anything illegal. However, he was wearing an outer shirt that was open but partially blocked view of the knife. A police officer saw it, arrested him and he faced 30 years. He finally plea-bargained for 18 years, I believe.

      The amount of time that is routinely given to some of the men I minister to is unbelievable. I have ministered to whites, Native Americans, and Hispanics, but so far no African Americans, who are not in the “tank” I am assigned to. That is simply the luck of the draw as African Americans could come through this particular tank, but so far, I have not had the opportunity to see or minister to any in this particular tank.

      At any rate, had the two women we are discussing NOT used a gun, which theoretically could have been used to kill someone, the situation would have been different. The fact that they only got $11.00 has nothing to do with it, since they did not know ahead of time how much money they could have gotten. For all they knew, their victim(s) could have had hundreds or more. While I agree that a life sentence is harsh, keep the amount of money out of the picture and what we have is a the commission of a crime with a gun, capable of killing.

      People who do the crime, should seriously think about the consequences of their actions. They don’t. I am amazed frankly, at how many inmates I deal with who do not whine, they do not claim innocence, they do not believe the system has created problems for them. They actually claim responsibility for their actions and so far, many have seemed very grateful that though they could have gotten life, they “only” received 20 or so years. That’s still a very long time.

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