Category: mass incarceration

Tulia script plays out in southern Louisiana

Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish reported yesterday that 70 narcotics cases made by a single undercover officer are being dismissed.  Elijah Gary, the officer responsible for making almost 100 cases in the Parish, was on loan from a neighboring Parish (see Times-Picayune article below for the details).  When it was discovered that Mr. Gary had been convicted of domestic abuse and violating a restraining order, he was taken in for questioning.  Beating up a girlfriend and violating a restraining order doesn’t disqualify an undercover cop–lying about it does.

Several attorney friends sent me this story yesterday because of the obvious parallels between Elijah Gary and Tom Coleman, the Texas “officer of the year” who implicated 47 residents of Tulia, Texas in 1999.   According to the Times-Picayune story, “[Sheriff] Champagne’s office received the Crimestoppers Law Enforcement Award at the 25th annual Crimestoppers luncheon in March in New Orleans” on the strength of Elijah Gary’s work.  (more…)

Standing up for guilty defendants

Michelle Alexander says the criminal justice reform movement should shed its fixation with innocence.  In her groundbreaking book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alexander suggests that reformers start focusing on normal defendants.  Since most criminal defendants done the deed, that means going to bat for guilty people.  Why would we want to do that? (more…)