Let's Not Be Distracted by Casey Anthony
Some think she got away with murder, but the great unfairness of our criminal-justice system is what deserves our attention.
Americans should be more outraged that Rodney Stanberry languishes in an Alabama prison, convicted of crimes that he did not commit. Stanberry was arrested in 1992, convicted in 1995 and sentenced in 1997 to serve three 20-year sentences for attempted murder, first-degree burglary and robbery -- to be served concurrently. He began serving his 15th year of incarceration on March 25, 2011.
Americans should be fed up with the phony "war on drugs" that has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of nonviolent, low-level drug offenders incarcerated, most of them African American. According to Harvard professor Charles Ogletree, "While representing 12 percent of the U.S. population and 14 percent of monthly drug users, African Americans are 37 percent of those arrested on drug charges and 59 percent of those convicted on drug charges … They also account for 74 percent of drug offenders sentenced to prison."
Americans should be outraged when a sitting Supreme Court justice opines that the brutal beating of a prisoner at the hands of guards is not cruel and unusual punishment. According to Common Dreams.org, in the 1992 Supreme Court case Hudson v. McMillian, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the beating of Keith Hudson by three prison guards was not cruel and unusual punishment, although the beating left a hog-tied Hudson with loosened teeth, facial bruises and a cracked dental plate. ''A use of force that causes only insignificant harm to a prisoner may be immoral, it may be torturous, it may be criminal ... but it is not 'cruel and unusual punishment,' '' Thomas wrote.
Be concerned that Guantánamo Bay is still open for business, that the Patriot Act has been extended and that your "private" conversations are not so private because of the National Security Agency's "warrantless wiretapping."
What's the greater moral outrage: the guilty going free or the innocent wrongfully convicted? The death of little Caylee was a tragedy, but her mother's case went through the system, and the system worked as it is designed to do. Don't let the media attention and hyped "moral" outrage distract you from the real challenges to U.S. civil rights and liberties. The next innocent victim could be you!
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the producer-host of the call-in talk radio program Inside the Issues With Wilmer Leon on Sirius/XM 128. He teaches at Howard University in Washington, D.C. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter.