Out of prison

After a year in a Texas youth prison, 15-year-old Shaquanda Cotton was freed Saturday. She’d received an indeterminate sentence of up to seven years for shoving a teacher’s aide. Her home school district of Paris, Texas is under investigation on charges black students are treated more harshly than whites. The courts seem to have a problem too.

Three months before Cotton, who had no prior criminal record, was sentenced by Paris Judge Chuck Superville in March, 2006, to up to seven years in youth prison for the shoving incident, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson to probation. Later, when the white teenager violated her probation, Superville gave her yet another chance and declined to send her to prison. Only when the youth violated her probation a second time did the judge order her locked up.

A special conservator investigating abuse of juvenile inmates ordered Cotton released immediately after discovering prison authorities had extended her indeterminate sentence for having “contraband” — an extra pair of socks — in her cell.

Here’s the judge’s explanation — the mother was uncooperative — and a response from Prometheus 6.

Update: Under pressure from the special conservator, Texas is releasing 550 juvenile prisoners who completed their minimum sentences with no behavioral problems.

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  1. The Shaquanda Cotton story has many more nuances than referenced here. I believe that readers wishing to develop a sense of the nuances should proceed to Michael Bowen’s blog, read his original post and the evolution of his later opinion.


    Short bit from a commenter:

    This juvenile would not be in TYC if her mother had agreed to cooperate with conditions of probation after the jury found her essentially guilty.

    Black leaders in our community, as well as the local chapter of the NAACP, have shyed away from the case because it is an issue of irresponsible parenting. The mother and her fringe, extremist, anti-white organization (Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality) who are aligned with the New Black Panthers want to blame the system and the judge for her daughter being in TYC.

    There comes a time when we all must recognize when our actions have been discovered, we have been judged guilty, and we must suffer the consequences. To remove consequences from our children for their actions does them more harm than good.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    You do not have to go to a blog. Just go to the Paris, Texas News website and search for Cotton. There are several articles including one where the judge was interviewed.

    I also suspect that the mother is hiding behind privacy laws when claiming that her daughter was not a trouble maker. The mother had filed a Civil Rights complaint a year before her dauther was arrested for assault.

  3. As it turns out, the prosecutor and the DA of Paris TX lied.


    “Let her out of TYC,” said Allan Hubbard, spokesman for Lamar County District Atty. Gary Young. “Hell, she’s done a year for pushing a teacher. That’s too long.”

    Hubbard also backed away from claims he and Young made this week in numerous media interviews that the judge in the case, Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville, had had no choice but to send the youth to prison because her mother had testified that she would not cooperate with probation officials had the judge sentenced the teen to probation.

    On Thursday, Young’s official Web site contained this assertion: “This juvenile’s mother (Creola Cotton) told the judge she would not comply with conditions of probation.”

    But a review of the full court transcript shows no such testimony. In fact, Creola Cotton repeatedly answered “yes” when asked in court whether she would comply with any conditions of probation that the judge might impose.

    On Friday morning, after an inquiry about this discrepancy by the Tribune, the district attorney’s Web site was altered to read: “Through her actions of non-cooperation, Ms. Cotton told the judge she would not comply with conditions of probation.”

  4. Up to seven years for a juvenile for simple battery?! Here in Florida, the statutory maximum for an ADULT would be 364 days. Meanwhile, arson could get you 30 years to life, depending on what you were burning.