Justice for All: Every Life Matters

The brutal beating of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore, Maryland resident, while in the custody of Baltimore, police officers on April 12, 2015, is one of a series of recent highly publicized examples of police brutality.   Sadly, following the valiant attempts by trauma center personnel to save Freddie’s life, and after being in a coma for several days, Gray succumbed to his injuries and died on April 19, 2015. Freddie Gray’s funeral was held yesterday.

Within hours of the conclusion of Gray’s funeral, a peaceful public protest began in Baltimore.  The protestors want justice for Freddie Gray. They want the person or persons responsible for causing the injuries to Freddie’s body that led to his death held accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately, a relatively small group hijacked the protest and a riot ensued. The looters, burners, and those who attacked law enforcement officials represent only themselves. They are not in any way part of the peaceful movement calling for justice for all, including for Freddie Gray.

In addition to the brutal beating and tragic death of Freddie Gray, the other unfolding story  is the response by some cable news channels, including CNN, to focus on the rioting and not on the circumstances and events that led up to the chaos that took place in Baltimore last night. The emphasis of most reporters seem to center on criticizing elected officials and on trying to get African American leaders to condemn the rioters-which they did, and rightfully so.

However, there were few attempts by those same reporters to get law enforcement officials to condemn the conduct of the police officers who were directly responsible for protecting and safely transporting Freddie Gray. Instead, most  cable news channel reporters offered viewers a steady diet of subjective narrow-minded, business protecting, moralizing comments  that focused on the harm done to businesses rather than the harm done by police officers to  Freddie Gray and the other citizens of Baltimore.

A Miscarriage of Justice, or Another Example of Disparity in the Criminal Justice System

Last week eleven former Atlanta, Georgia public school educators were convicted in a test cheating scandal that rocked the nation.  According to various media sources, the educators were charged with racketeering because they conspired to inflate standardized test scores in order to receive bonuses for themselves or their schools. If guilty the educators deserve to be punished. However, the charge of racketeering and the possible subsequent sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment seem excessive.

The fact is, as indicated by the sampling of cases highlighted below, educators guilty of sexually assaulting their students have been permitted to plead to lesser crimes and received more lenient sentences than those educators charged and convicted in the Atlanta Public Schools standardized test cheating scandal

Mary kay LMary Kay Letourneau- elementary school teacher

  • In August of 1997, Letourneau pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape, and was given a suspended seven-year jail sentence, serving six months in the county jail and required to enroll in a three-year sex offender program.
  • February of 1998, she was found in a parked car with Faulaau, along with a sizable amount of money, baby clothes, and a passport, and was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of her term.Debra Lafave- a middle school Teacher.

Debra LaFave 2

Debra LaFave- mididle school teacher

  • In June of 2004, she was arrested on charges of having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old boy. Police records report that Lafave had performed oral sex on the boy on June 3rd, and had sexual intercourse with the him in a portable classroom at her school nine days later.
  • Lafave pleaded guilty in November of 2005 to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery, and received three years of house arrest, seven years’ probation, and was forced to register as a sex offender.

Abbie Jane Swogger- 34-year-old Teacher’s Aide               Abbie

  • By the time Swogger made it to trial, she was accused of 39 separate charges, including providing crack cocaine to the teenagers at the Clarion Inn, and luring two other female teenagers to her room at the Clarion Inn in order to have sex with them.
  • In May of 2009, she pleaded guilty to 11 of the 39 charges against her, and was sentenced to three to six years in jail, followed by 36 years of probation.

stephanie    Stephanie Ragusa- middle school teacher

  • In between March and April of 2008, she was arrested three separate times for having sex with two different underage male students, one 16 and the other 14.
  • On June 28, 2010, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison with five years of sexual offender probation.

It doesn’t seem right that educators who have stolen the innocence of young people, and in some cases contributed to the corruption of their morals’, should be tried less harshly and receive lighter sentences than the eleven former Atlanta Pubic Schools educators convicted of cheating by inflating students’ test scores.