Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Congressman John Conyers (D) To Call For Mychal Bell's Release

By the Too Sense AfroSpear blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP) Wednesday, September 26, 2007

According to the AP, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers intends to call for Mychal Bell's release after meeting with his parents and other black lawmakers. Although all adult charges against Bell have been dismissed on the basis that he is a juvenile and must be tried as such, Bell remains in an adult prison.

A lawmaker said Tuesday he will press the government for the release of a black teenager held in the "Jena 6" case that spurred one of the biggest civil-rights demonstrations in years. Other activists said they planned more protests if the teen is not immediately pardoned.

"Our first responsibility is to get young Mychal Bell out of prison," said Rep. John Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who said he will pressure the Justice Department to take a hard look at "the miscarriages of justice that have occurred in Jena, Louisiana."

Sharpton maintains that the issue is equal justice, not justifying the actions of the Jena Six in attacking Justin Barker.

"We are not fighting for black kids that beat up white kids. We're talking about the disparity in how the law works," the New York-based activist said, adding that he still expects the local county prosecutor who brought the charges to be called to testify before Congress.

That should have been clear from the beginning. But it's not, because for those who want to keep the Jena Six in prison, the issue really is the race of the attackers and the race of the victim, rather than fairness in how the law is applied. It's not that they think the law wasn't fairly applied, it's that given the circumstances, they don't think it should be.

DA Mike Nifong was disbarred after circumventing the law to bring three white, affluent Duke students up on false charges. Mychal Bell lacks their resources. But if the system is capable of rendering justice under these circumstances, Jena's District Attorney Reed Walters will be following in Nifong's footsteps, and never be allowed to practice law again.

More importantly, the hearings in Congress should bring attention to the racial disparities in our criminal justice system. This issue has somehow escaped the notice of major presidential candidates in both parties, despite the fact that there are more than 2 and a half million Americans in prison, a disproportionate number of which are black.

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