Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unequal Justice in Mississippi

On February 6, 2006, Jessie Lee Williams Jr., died at the hands of the Harrison County sheriff deputies who were booking him. Deputy Teel was found guilty on three counts and has been sentenced to two terms. Justice worked in this case and part of had to do with the policy of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department to video-tape bookings. Anyone can access the booking area of the county jail.

Contrast that openness with the actions of the Boston police. I digress. That is another issue.

Justice in Mississippi worked for Jessie Lee Williams, Jr. But Cory Maye still languishes in prison. He shot and killed police officer Ron Jones after the police barged into his home under the "no-knock rule". The police were executing a warrant for a drug dealer who lived in the other side of a duplex where Mayes and his family lived.

It is a tragic and sad story that really shouldn't have happened. A father, Cory Mayes, had no idea who the intruders to his home were. He just knew he and his little girl were in danger. It is a nightmare scenario played out time and again with the "no-knock rule". Police officers enter the wrong dwelling or invade homes with little more than the word of someone who may just be passing on information in an effort to gain a lighter charge. The "no-knock rule" reeks of injustice and is an erosion of the basic rights of American citizens.

Two families have no peace. The family of Officer Ron Jones grieves and as justice is sought to right the wrong to Cory Mayes, the Jones' family will have wounds reopened. Cory Mayes' children are growing up without him. He has to make do with sending cards and telephone calls. From reading of this case, he shouldn't be in prison at all. At least Mayes no longer faces the death penalty. But he shouldn't be in prison at all. A wrong address, police officers barging in at night, a father with a gun protecting his child from unknown intruders: is a life sentence justice?

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