Coleman never presented any physical evidence in any of his cases, such as drug money, recorded conversations, finger prints, surveillance videos, etc. He relied simply upon his testimony, which was shaky at best as he contracted himself several times over the course of various trials. By all apparent indications, Coleman took shortcuts by being fast and loose with the facts. Again, financial incentives seemingly manufactured this scandal and minorities seemed to be the easiest targets. Coleman clearly felt the pressure to manufacture some splashy headlines, the kind that keeps the federal grants rolling in.
Despite clear evidence that should have exonerated them, some defendants, such as Ramona Strickland, simply pled guilty fearing that they wouldn’t receive a fair trial. In Strickland’s case, Coleman’s report noted that she was “about six months pregnant” even though she is a slim woman who wasn’t pregnant at the time. Likewise, Cleveland Joe Henderson Jr. pled guilty with the same fears, even though his case file didn’t actually name him. Instead, it named his father with a matching picture of his father.
According to Jeff Blackburn’s estimation, 12 of his clients weren’t in any way inv...
... middle of paper ...
...ll permanently stained with several of the locals. “They still call you a drug dealer even though your case has been overturned. ‘They made a mistake by letting us out.’ You hear a lot of that,” says Michelle Lee White who works as a certified nursing assistant.
Are there any other “Tulias” that haven’t been uncovered? According to Barbara Markham, a former undercover narcotics officer who is now blackballed due to her reform efforts, “There are whole task forces of Tom Colemans out there.” There are many people who aren’t necessarily racist, but they are apathetic about minorities who generally don’t get fair treatment from the criminal justice system because it hasn’t directly affected their lives. Those same people should realize that these consequences may eventually “come home to roost” because of the tremendous growing power of the prison industrial complex.
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