Tuesday, April 24, 2007

AFROSPHERE NEWSFLASH: Shaquanda Cotton Interview

April 23, 2007
By Eddie Griffin


I had to see Shaquanda Cotton in person, the Paris teenager locked up in a Texas Youth Commission (TYC) detention facility for shoving a school hall monitor. I had to see for myself if the child was okay after the trauma of being incarcerated for a year. I had to be there on Sunday, April 22 at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church where a rally was held in her honor.

When I started out for the small northeastern Texas town, I had absolutely no idea where I was going, as I crept around winding back roads, through rural wooded farmland and sparsely populated communities, and no map for guidance. But I was driven more by faith than common sense to see the young lady that I had written so many stories about and who become a folk legend as the youngest civil rights hero. I felt that this was my child, who had been set free by public protests, radio talk show publicity, and a massive online campaign through the Afrosphere blog world.

To read more about Eddie Griffin’s meeting with Shaquanda Cotton, visit the Eddie G. Griffin (BASG) blog.


plez sez: Eddie Griffin should be commended for going to Paris, Texas to lend his support for this young lady who was a victim of a justice system that considers race when it metes out punishment. I believe that Shaquanda Cotton should have been punished (i.e. school suspension) for her actions that day, but i also believe that she did nothing to warrant being incarcerated for a year in the TYC Detention Facility. i am pleased that she has been released, but i also hope that there is some benefit to her incarceration and plans for a correction to "lady justice"!

5 comments:

LLR said...

young lady who was a victim of a justice system that considers race when it metes out punishment.
I remember reading about the white girl her age that got 2 years probation for burning down here family’s home and how they tried to compare it to this case. If I am correct, didn’t the white girl and her family take the plea bargain? Now there is a little debate as if Cotton was offered the same 2 year plea bargain. Some say she was and others say that she wasn’t given the plea. If she was given the plea then there is no consideration of race when dishing out punishment. If the plea was given and they rejected it or wouldn’t comply with the terms of the plea and probation there are no “do-overs.” You can’t ask for the 2 years probation after the conviction.

I believe that Shaquanda Cotton should have been punished (i.e. school suspension) for her actions that day, but i also believe that she did nothing to warrant being incarcerated for a year in the TYC Detention Facility.

Hum I think that we kind of agree, but I am a little tougher. I don’t think that she should have gotten a year in that detention center, but she was guilty of the crime that she was charged with and that crime is a felony.
In a lot of cities there are kids that think it’s OK to punch, slap, and spit on school officials. As a result laws like the one that she broker were created. They make it a felony to put your hands on a school official. I don’t have a problem with the laws at all. I do have a problem with the sentence that she was give. Up to 7 years is too long, but everything should have been considered. They should have looked at her grades (it doesn’t matter how good or bad they were, but it makes her look like a good girl if she has an A average), her past discipline record, and other things when considering her sentence.

Eddie G. Griffin said...

What spurred me to go to Paris was a question some blogger wrote about "getting all the facts". Some readers ignore that there are two sides to the story. The Paris News is definitely a one-sided newspaper. If you had read my piece, you would have known that few people have "all the facts". The fact is Shaquanda and her mother Creola fought every school incident report through proper legal channels. A civil rights investigation was conducted based on the complaints that minority students are disciplined more and more harshly than their white counterparts. This concurs with a national trend in the disparity of punishment. Second, Shaquanda's assault case has been challenged all down the line. She had every ground to plead "not guilty" and go to trial. And, just because she was convicted, it does not mean that she was guilty. In the state of Texas, there was been 28 people recently exonerated after being wrongly prosecuted and convicted. Somebody on the blog does not know Texas very well. Otherwise, the blogger would have sided with Shaquanda and the other 472 young prisoners being released from the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) detention, which is now under investigation for widespread sexual abuse of children in custody. The blogger would know that the entire TYC board of directors were forced to resign because of coverup, that many top TYC official have resigned or been fired, and that new laws are being written by the state legislature to prevent children like Shaquanda from being sent to prison straight out of high school for a misdemeanor.

My personal impression of Shaquanda was that she deserved none of this. She should have been allowed inside the school building to receive her ADHD medication. There is a dispute over who pushed whom first. But denying a child her medication is excuse enough to trigger an incident. How would you feel if you were denied the very medication that helps you maintain self-control? What would you do? Remember, she was a 14-year old child at the time. And, she is still a child. But incarceration took away her childhood.

plez... said...

llr,
there is always more to the story than what meets the eye. by going to the wikipedia.com link for this story, there does appear to be "another side of the story" angle that was being played out with this young girl's mother.

i was taught to have respect for one's elders at a very early age and if i'd touched a teacher at my school, i probably would've WISHED that i got put away because of the WHUPPIN' my daddy would've layed on me when i got home!

but it also appears to be some mitigating circumstances surrounding Shaquanda's need for medication for her ADDH.

i think we agree on MORE than you'd care to admit. she was guilty of something, but whatever it was didn't warrant a sentence to 7 years in a detention center.

i guess the MORAL of the story is BAD THINGS happen when you put your hands on other people!

plez... said...

eddie,
i agree with you (almost) 100%. i don't feel that a lack of self-control can be used as an excuse to "allegedly" assault someone, but i also feel equally as adamant that the State of Texas exercised poor judgement in sentencing this girl to 7 years in a detention center.

thanks for coming to my blog and sharing your wisdom and keen insight on this ugly chapter in american jurisprudence.

LLR said...

She had every ground to plead "not guilty" and go to trial. And, just because she was convicted, it does not mean that she was guilty. In the state of Texas, there was been 28 people recently exonerated after being wrongly prosecuted and convicted.
Doesn’t she admit to pushing the school official?

new laws are being written by the state legislature to prevent children like Shaquanda from being sent to prison straight out of high school for a misdemeanor.
Wasn’t she charged and convicted of a felony and not a misdemeanor?

Mr. Griffin,
Was she offered the same plea that the white girl was offered? I think that it was 2 years probation. Some say that she was offered the plea and other say there was no plea.

i was taught to have respect for one's elders at a very early age and if i'd touched a teacher at my school, i probably would've WISHED that i got put away because of the WHUPPIN' my daddy would've layed on me when i got home!
I hear that. I would have gotten a whuppin’ at school and another at home.

but it also appears to be some mitigating circumstances surrounding Shaquanda's need for medication for her ADDH.
I can understand that. My question is did she push the school official? If she did then she should have gotten a lesser sentence than the one that she got. I am thinking probation and some community service. I would also require an apology to the school official. I would seal her record and that would be that.