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.