Monday, September 24, 2007

jena 6 (non)post

several have urged me to write about the jena 6 case. i've got little new to offer, so i'm referring folks to more knowledgeable observers.

as several crim/law bloggers have pointed out, this is a case about a twisty sequence of events. competing versions of each event are being reported, such that the ever-elusive "basic facts of the case" are particularly elusive in jena, louisiana. criminal defense attorney jeralyn merritt offers her characteristically thoughtful libertarian-leaning-lefty perspective on ms merritt:

While I still can't make judgments as to much of the story, I have no problem declaring the case one of prosecutorial over-charging and abuse of a system that allows prosecutors discretion in charging juveniles as adults... The key legal question being asked is whether the Jena Six have been or are being prosecuted unfairly based on racial considerations. Unfortunately, many of the facts necessary to make the determination are in dispute, confusing or unverified by impartial sources.

the jena case(s) bring to light issues that should be familiar to sociological criminologists: racial disparities in both the administration of justice and in the perceived legitimacy of this system; the further erosion of the adult and juvenile justice systems; the racialized history of american vigilantism; and, the common place of violence in the lives of young men. nevertheless, these issues and conditions are present in many cases in many courtrooms in many jurisdictions. in my opinion, some stories that never registered on the national radar have simpler heroes and villains, with miscarriages of justice that are arguably more egregious than those in jena. why do you think the particular series of events in jena have given rise to such a large mobilization?

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