• Criminal Law

    Posted on November 9th, 2010

    Written by sslates


    This week the NAACP held a rally to focus on a problem that has not gone unnoticed by Alabama criminal defense lawyers.  The rally was held to focus on the disparities in sentencing for black convicts compared to white convicts.

    The rally was followed by a news conference addressed by Bernard Simelton, the president of the Alabama chapter of the NAACP.  The rally specifically focused on the difference in sentencing for two men who were convicted of similar charges recently.

    This year, Brian Christopher Pettibone, a black teacher from Mobile, was convicted in Baldwin County of child sexual abuse.  Pettibone’s case involved four white girls, and he was sentenced to five years each on four felony counts of enticing a child for immoral purposes, second degree sex abuse charges which resulted in a one-year term, and six months on an attempted sex abuse charge.  In all, Pettibone was sentenced to 20 years.  He was convicted by an all-white jury.

    Last year, attorney John McCain had been convicted of second-degree sexual abuse, enticement and unlawful imprisonment.  The case involved two girls aged 12 and 13 years old.  He was given a six-year prison sentence.

    The NAACP is using the difference in sentencing for these two men, convicted of similar crimes, to illustrate the differences in sentencing that exists for black and white convicts.  According to the NAACP, a report by the US Sentencing Commission shows that black convicts receive jail sentences that were at least 10% longer than white convicts.

    The difference may not be as much a product of racial inequities or racism, as it is a result of poor criminal defense.  African Americans for instance, may be less likely to afford a criminal defense attorney in Alabama, and may have to do with an overworked public defender.  That often impacts the outcome of their cases.

    This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 12:33 pm and is filed under Criminal Law. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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