Be Nice to Your Hall Monitor – or Else Do 7 Years Hard Time

Your honor, in defense of my past posts on the Epidemic of Incarceration,  I would like to enter into the public record Exhibit A.

It is the Chicago Tribune story of Paris, TX resident Shaquanda Cotton (today’s #1 story on Digg).  She is a 14-year-old  who was tried and convicted of felony “assault on a public servant” for shoving a school hall monitor at her Paris High School.  For this heinous crime she was given a 7-year sentence by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville.

Jeez – time was that shoving – and/or otherwise showing your disdain for- your hall monitor was considered a prerequisite for entry into normal society.

But all kidding aside, I thought this story was a perfect illustration of many elements of the epidemic:

  1. Race – are African Americans given harsher sentences?
  2. Overcharging – should the Paris, TX DA really have even charged her with this felony offense to begin with? 
  3. Using Prison and Incarceration as a First Resort (rather than as a last resort) – could she have not been given some alternate intermediate punishment?  
  4. “Toughness on Crime” – is this sentence truly warranted?  Why was she not allowed out on bail while she filed her appeal?  What could this Judge possibly even been thinking?

This story is certainly sure to make people think a little harder about these issues.  Perhaps not entirely unlike an inprisoned Nelson Mandela made people think Apartheid wasn’t such a hot idea.  Your Honor, the defense rests.  Would you mind letting Shaquanda out of lockup now?

S. Cotton

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1 Response to “Be Nice to Your Hall Monitor – or Else Do 7 Years Hard Time”



  1. 1 Over-prosecution and the Jena 6 (Million) « The Software Foundry Trackback on September 26, 2007 at 12:37 am

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