Don't have an account yet? You can create one. As a registered user you have some advantages like theme manager, comments configuration and post comments with your name.

Classified Ads
No Ads submitted yet
World News: Justice At Last: Jena 6 Teen Mychal Bell Released From Prison Black Habits Articles JENA, La. (AP) — Mychal Bell exited the courthouse, free for the first time in 10 months. He was cheered by a crowd that included the Rev. Al Sharpton. But Bell's case is far from over: he's due back in court.

The prosecution of Bell, one of the black teenagers known as the Jena Six, led to a massive civil rights demonstration last week, bringing activists Sharpton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III to this tiny central Louisiana town.

Bell was released on $45,000 bail Thursday after the prosecutor dropped an attempt to try the 17-year-old as an adult on charges of aggravated second-degree battery in the beating of a white classmate.

He is scheduled to return to the courthouse Tuesday, his lawyer said, for the first hearing in his prosecution as a juvenile.

"Tonight Mychal can go home. But Mychal is not out of the juvenile process," Sharpton said Thursday, standing next to Bell at a news conference in front of the courthouse.

District Attorney Reed Walters' decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

Bell is among six black Jena High School students arrested in December after a beating that left Justin Barker, a white student, unconscious and bloody. Four of the defendants were 17 at the time, which made them adults under Louisiana law.

Those four and Bell, who was 16, were initially charged with attempted murder. Walters has said he sought to have Bell tried as an adult because he already had a criminal record, and because he believed Bell instigated the attack.

The charges were dropped to aggravated second-degree battery in four of the cases. One defendant has yet to be arraigned. The sixth defendant's case is sealed in juvenile court.

Bell's conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said juveniles could not be tried as adults on battery charges. That decision led to Bell's release.

Walters initially said he would appeal the decision. On Thursday, he said he changed his mind because it was in the best interest of the victim and his family to allow Bell to be charged as a juvenile.

"They are on board with what I decided," Walters said at a news conference.

Sharpton and other critics accuse Walters, who is white, of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that he did not file charges against three white teens suspended from the high school over allegations they hung nooses in a tree on campus not long before fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

"He never should have been jailed on this basis in the first place," Jackson said in a telephone interview after Bell's release. "To try a juvenile as an adult knowingly is child abuse and prosecutorial misconduct. The charges leveled by the district attorney and the high bond set by the judge were oppressive and filled with malicious intent."

The Congressional Black Caucus is asking the Justice Department to investigate possible civil rights violations in the case.

"This shocking case has focused national and international attention on what appears to be an unbelievable example of the separate and unequal justice that was once commonplace in the Deep South," the group of 43 lawmakers said in a letter to Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department has been monitoring the case and is investigating allegations of threats against the students and their families.

"Since these investigations are ongoing, the department cannot comment any further," Roehrkasse said.

Last week, Sharpton and Jackson led an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 protesters in Jena, which has a population of about 2,800.

Walters called the national attention on the small town a "trauma that has been brought upon us."

He also defended his decision not to seek charges against the white students in the hanging the nooses. He said the act was "abhorrent and stupid," but not a crime.

"There's no crime to charge them with," he said. "It is simply not a crime."

Associated Press writer Sam Hananel in Washington contributed to this report.
Posted on Wednesday, October 03 @ 00:00:00 UTC by jcohen

Sorry, Comments are not available for this article.
Copyright 2005 Black Habits