By Alan Bean
I emailed Radley Balko a couple of months ago to fill him in on the sad conclusion to a story he has been following.
I encouraged Ann Colomb to pursue a suit against the men responsible for wrongfully convicting Ann and three of her sons. I knew the deck was stacked against her, but she needed to know she had done everything in her power to win a public acknowledgment of wrongdoing and some financial compensation for her suffering.
No mainstream attorney with standing in the legal community would take the case because these matters are handled on a contingency basis and the chances of winning were too small to justify the time and expense.
Radley Balko is the only journalist with national reach who has looked into this case. You have to understand the criminal justice system to handle the complexities of this case and few journalists do. Friends of Justice worked this case from 2004 through 2006 when Ann and her boys walked out of prison. That was the most satisfying moment I have experienced in fifteen years of advocacy work. Too bad the system intentionally shields wrongdoers from the consequences of their actions.
An Update In The Story Of Ann Colomb
By Radley Balko
Back in 2008, I wrote a long piece for Reason magazine about the Colombs, a black, working class family in Church Point, Louisiana. The Colombs’ story goes back 15 years, and is pretty complex, but here are the highlights:
— The family says they had been routinely harassed for years by local law enforcement. This harassment seemed to begin when the light-skinned Colomb boys began dating white girls, including the daughter of a local deputy. The harassment included the boys and their white girlfriends regularly getting pulled over, and on several occasions arrested on charges that never stuck (except on one occasion).
— Church Point is largely segregated (in fact, if not in law), or at least it was when I wrote the story. (more…)