In 2012 Ramad Chatman was convicted of breaking and entering for stealing a $120 television. It was his first offense and he was charged with five years of probation including monthly check-ins, community service, and staying employed. Perhaps a steep sentence considering the offense, but of course breaking the law has consequences.
But who could have predicted that years later Chatman would find himself back in the legal system. After being identified from social media for robbery Chatman is back in court– only because he turned himself in an effort to aid in his presumed innocence. Originally, Chatman was wiling to plead guilty to assault if the armed robbery charges were dropped. Was this because he was guilty of the whole crime, so he was fishing for a deal, or was he innocent but knew his odds of being presumed so were weakened by his skin color?
This next development could validate Chatman’s thought process… The judge presiding: Judge Jack Niedrach, rejected this plea for no apparent reason, so the case went to trial. But it was revealed that the identification was made over a year after the crime, and any other evidence provided was shaky at best. Because of these reasons, as it would be in any trial, Ramad Chatman was found innocent. But Judge Niedrach sent him to prison anyway. So Chatman could be nearing the end of his probation, but instead he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The system we trust and put our faith in is being corrupted by cases like these and judges like Niedrach. The abuse of power is repulsive and the fact that in 2017 fallacies like these still occur is disheartening. But we are hopeful that things can change through time and awareness.
What do you think of this case? What can we do to peacefully raise awareness?