The implications of this racially-tinged episode are just as disconcerting. It is a stark reminder that our justice system is still far from color-blind. A kid from an inner city who’s caught with the “wrong” kind of cocaine faces a mandatory sentence of five years in prison and the prospect of a ruined life afterwards. Meanwhile, a kid in the suburbs who does the “right” type of cocaine probably won’t be caught in the first place, but if he is, can usually count on probation or some other slap on the wrist. It all means that blacks are 80% of those prosecuted for drug offenses even though 2/3 of all cocaine users are white or Hispanic. We live in an era when Scooter Libby, who was convicted of perjuring himself and hindering a federal investigation gets no jail time, while a young black man, Marcus Dixon, was consigned to rot in prison for 10 years because he had consensual sex with his white girlfriend.
The Senate is in the midst of investigating the sentences imposed on two border patrol guards convicted of shooting a drug dealer as he fled. If it is right to free two men who are demonstrably guilty, circumstances notwithstanding, of the crime for which they were convicted, then it is only just for someone in power, either in Louisiana, or in the federal government to help restore the lives of six boys whose lives have been hijacked by an arbitrary and capricious justice process. I’m not holding my breath.