Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

JENA 6 Teen Released On Bail

Mychal Bell, the black teenager whose incarceration in a racially explosive case helped draw tens of thousands of civil rights protesters to the tiny Deep South town of Jena, La., last week, was released from jail on Thursday after more than nine months behind bars.

Bell, 17, one of six black teenagers charged with the beating of a white classmate at Jena High School last December, was freed after a local judge abruptly set a bond of $45,000, which a local bail bonding firm quickly posted on Bell's behalf.

The youth's release capped a day of mounting political and judicial pressures in a case that has drawn condemnation from scores of national civil rights leaders concerned about perceived inequalities in the town's justice system.

In Washington, the Congressional Black Caucus asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate possible civil rights violations and prosecutorial misconduct in the Jena 6 case.

"This shocking case has focused national and international attention on what appears to be an unbelievable example of the separate and unequal justice that was once commonplace in the Deep South," the group of 43 lawmakers said in a letter to Acting Atty. Gen. Peter Keisler.

A Justice Department spokesman said investigations into the case were ongoing but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana district attorney whose prosecution of the Jena 6 defendants sparked the civil rights protest declared that only through the intervention of Jesus Christ was Jena spared from a "disaster" last week when more than 20,000 African American demonstrators marched peacefully through the town.

"I firmly believe that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened," LaSalle Parish District Atty. Reed Walters told a nationally televised press conference.

When a black Jena pastor attending the press conference called it a "shame" that the prosecutor was crediting divine intervention for the orderly behavior of the demonstrators, Walters, who is white, said: "What I'm saying is, the Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly."

The six-hour march on Sept. 20 drew families from across the nation who rode buses for hours to protest perceived racial discrimination in the mostly-white town of 3,000 people. The demonstration was completely nonviolent; state and local authorities confirmed that they made no arrests and received no reports of property damage.

Walters insisted that he had treated all of the Jena 6 defendants "fairly and with dignity" but said he would not relent in his prosecution of the youths for aggravated second-degree battery in the beating of Justin Barker, a 17-year-old white classmate.

The attack on Barker followed months of racial unrest in the town sparked after three white students hung nooses from a tree at the high school in an apparent warning aimed at black students not to try to sit beneath its shade. In a series of ensuing racial fights both on and off the campus, white students who attacked black students were charged with misdemeanors or not at all, but the six black youths who jumped Barker and knocked him briefly unconscious were initially charged by Walters with attempted murder.

Bell was the first of the teenagers to go to trial. One of the remaining five has been charged as a juvenile, three others await trial as adults and one youth has yet to be arraigned.
Chicago Tribune


concerned said...

Do you suppose DA Reed
Walters is trying to incite anger?
Maybe he is the devil!

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