I had this story in the hopper for a while, and I’m not sure how I forgot to post it.
Sue Kennon, who is white, robbed four pharmacies in southern Virginia with a toy gun. Ollin Crawford, who is black, robbed four banks in Fairfax County with a fake grenade. No one was hurt in any of the robberies. Kennon and Crawford were both sentenced under the three strikes law since each robbery was treated as a separate offense. Kennon received a sentence of 48 years without the possibility of parole, while Crawford received a sentence of 70 years, also without the possibility of parole. Neither had any previous felonious activity on their record.
Kennon comes from a wealthy, politically connected family. They drummed up media coverage of her case and paid for lawyers who fought for years to have her sentence commuted. Two years ago, the state Parole Board decided that the three-time loser law should not have been applied to her case.
Crawford comes from a working-class family. She has no army of high price lawyers fighting for her. She remains in jail, not eligible for release until 2020.
While the different treatment (post conviction) may have something to do with skin color, I believe that it has more to do with the inequities between rich and poor in the legal system. There is no better analogy than the old “you get what you pay for” line in these two cases.
So my question to you for discussion is which is the bigger inequity factor: race or wealth?