Here We Go Again…

Jena Six defendant Mychal Bell is back in jail. Yes, you read that line correctly.

On Thursday LaSalle Parish Judge J.P. Mauffray, acting in his capacity as a juvenile court judge, sentenced Bell to eighteen months at the Renaissance Home for Youth, a secure facility in nearby Alexandria. Bell’s involvement in the Jena Six fight, Mauffray ruled, violated the terms of his probation stemming from prior offenses. (Bell had been charged with two counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of property in a pair of cases that preceded the fight.) No bail has been set; Bell’s attorneys are planning to appeal. Bell is still scheduled to appear in court on December 6, when he will be retried as a juvenile for his role in the gang-up on Justin Barker.

Mauffray and District Attorney Reed Walters have taken some hits lately, to be sure. One month ago the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Bell’s conviction for aggravated second-degree battery in the Jena Six case, and two weeks ago Bell was let out on bail. And let’s not forget that thousands of protesters recently stopped by the LaSalle Parish courthouse to pay them an unfriendly visit.

But yesterday’s ruling sends a clear message that they’re not going down without a fight of their own. After more than a month in a crouch position they have now hit back with another attempt to keep Bell in jail for as long as they can. Why they saw fit only now to adjudicate Bell on charges that preceded the Jena Six fight is a mystery to me, since details on Bell’s record and juvenile proceedings are not readily available. My best guess, given the way his case has played out to date, is that the earlier charges weren’t that serious. (Hell, even Mauffray let him off!) And it wasn’t necessary during the Jena Six trial to paint Bell as a probation violator, since the case was already a lock for Walters. Which means that Bell’s record didn’t “become” serious until the prosecution needed a stronger case.

Walters and Mauffray will not relent until someone forces them to; that is beyond doubt by now. The national uproar over their handling of the Jena Six has only strengthened their resolve to punish Bell–and, one assumes, the others–as fully as possible. Forget rehabilitation; Bell’s is a juvenile case in name only. Forget probation, forget community programming, treatment, time served, house arrest. And while we’re at it, let’s forget equality under the law, disproportionate minority confinement, all-white juries, nooses and any and all mitigating factors, too. In Jena, as these guys see it, they are the law, and they intend to mete out justice as they define it, civil rights and media glare be damned.

Governor Kathleen Blanco has already intervened on Bell’s behalf: on September 26, after meeting with Blanco, Walters agreed not to challenge the appellate ruling and to try Bell in juvenile court. Now that Walters, with Mauffray’s help, has overcharged Bell through different means, it’s time for Blanco to step in once again. This can’t go on.


5 responses to “Here We Go Again…

  1. Something i have noticed while reading articles about this is i have seen no evidence and completly contradictory reports on what happend. from various readings the only evidence i see is the victim identfied them after being unable to identfy the attackers. another thing i have heard is the attack only lasted seconds. How can 6 people beat someone in seconds. According to the accused, i have read there was a commotion and like all kids he went to see what it was. Has any one else noticided no one has said what evidence they have. if this boy was truly beaten their would have been blood on his attackers, however their has been no metion of blood evidence. Just something to think abouut!!!

  2. It’s taken months longer than it should have thanks to the likes of Jesse Jackson and his uncouth ilk, but some justice has finally been served. Hopefully Justin Barker and his family can get some solace out of this and move on with their lives.

  3. There was a reason the court wanted to keep this kid in jail originally, they knew of these previous battery charges. This kid is a time bomb…. he needs some treatment to deal with his violent behavior, or else he will be a another punk who just grows up to be a thug, and is in and out jail for his whole life, leaving a trail of battered bodies. Hopefully, in the juvenile detention center he will get the help he needs.

  4. The black community wanted Bell’s case to be handled by a juvenile court instead of an adult court… they achieved that, now they are whinning again because the juvenile court said he was a parole violator and ordered more time for Bell. He is a repeat offender and deserves to be put in the juvenile jail. it seems that blacks want him to get away with this. it was a hate crime pure and simple. Black people don’t want equal justice… they want no justice. If the situation were reversed jesse and al would be screaming for the death penalty. black people use the race card as an excuse to not get prosecuted for crime, and the american people are getting tired of the whinning. black people are the real racists, because they don’t ever shut up about it.

  5. Those boys have NO reason the be in jail, they did nothing wrong but defend themselves.

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