January 2015 - Equal Justice For All?

In the nearly 20 years that I’ve been in prison I’ve yet to meet any rich, famous or politically connected people. Some come from middle to upper class neighborhoods, but the vast majority of us are from ghettos, barrios and trailer parks. I often hear about celebrities and politicians or politically connected people having run-ins with the law, but they usually get off scot free or get slapped on the wrist. Cases like OJ Simpson’s are widely known, but there are countless other examples. Here are a few that come to mind:

Several years back a millionaire named Durst (from a family worth billions out of New York) was down here in Texas (Galveston) and he killed a woman (a prostitute, I believe?) and chopped her into pieces and bagged her parts up to get rid of the evidence. He was found not guilty of murder and won his self defense claim. Of course I’m not privy to all of the details of the case. It very well could’ve been self defense, though why he felt the need to chop her up and hide the parts is beyond me! But what I do know is had that been an average citizen he/she would’ve gotten the death penalty!!

When Polunsky Unit was first opened in 1992 (then called The Terrell Unit) a guard known as Joe Boy killed a mentally ill inmate. It happened out on 7 building in the general population. Joe Boy was taken to trial for murder because his fellow officer who was there when he did it said Joe Boy rolled the inmate’s door and went into his cell and beat him to death for no reason. They convicted Joe Boy of murder, but the judge gave him a ten year suspended sentence and probation. He spent all of 90 days in jail… You often hear of cops and those in law enforcement that kill people or commit crimes and do little to no jail time. Usually the worst that ever happens to them is they lose their jobs.

Tony Blake played on the old television show “Baretta” and “The Little Rascals”. He killed his wife and beat the case, then later told Barbra Walters it costed him 10 million dollars to keep his freedom.

In 1995 my 16 year old self stood before former judge Pat Shelton charged with murder under the law of parties. Despite the fact that the judge and prosecutor knew my father committed the murder, judge Shelton certified me to stand trial as an adult. He looked down at me with scorn, as if I were the lowest form of life and my presence repulsed and offended him. He deemed that my 15 year old self was reasonable and responsible enough to account for my behavior according to the adult justice system. There’s was no consideration of the circumstances of the case, how I was raised and conditioned by my environment, much less any empathy and understanding for how impulsive and irrational most 15 year old kids act.

Yet, how did judge Pat Shelton react when his 20 year old daughter was tried and convicted of intoxication manslaughter? Was he just as harsh towards her? Did he think that she should be held accountable for her actions, that as a 20 year old she was reasonable and responsible enough to know better not to be driving drunk? Apparently not because he was more concerned about the driver of the truck his daughter hit being an illegal immigrant than the fact that her, recklessness killed her boyfriend. http://m.chron.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Falkenberg-Former-Judge-Pat-Shelton-just-won-t-2227301.php

Or what of the judge’s daughter’s punishment? How did Pat Shelton’s influence affect her sentencing? Well, she received four months jail time and 8 hours of community service per month to be served over 30 months, but a tiny detail on the order allowed her to perform the community service while in jail, something that goes against the standards outlined by the Community Service Department.

The Judge’s daughter, Elizabeth Shelton, clearly knew she’d get treated differently the night of the crime as she repeatedly told cops and paramedics, “My daddy is an (expletive judge)” and made obscene gestures, with her dead boyfriend not far away.

I think it’s clear how Pat Shelton thinks. People of his status are exempt from the treatment and penalties the common folks are subject to. In fact, he’s made it clear how he thinks of minorities and those on the low end of the socioeconomic ladder. The way he treated the mother of a 15 year old Latino kid before his bench says it all. http://www.houstonpress.com/1999-07-01/news/bully-on-the-bench/

This past Monday we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a man who dreamt of equal treatment for all. Since his assassination much has changed and there have been social improvements, no doubt, but sadly we still live in a society where the rich, famous and politically connected are still treated differently than the rest.

Love and Light, Robert