Trapped in a Crazy Court System

InjusticeYou might be wondering what happened to my felon friend, Clemetin, who was picked up in the park and accused of selling heroin back in August

A crime he didn’t commit.

A few weeks earlier, he’d been caught stealing a pack of peanuts from a store. He did do that. But that’s a far cry from selling a deadly illegal substance.

Punished for an Uncommitted Crime


My friend, Clemetin Allen

Since then, he’s been in and out of court, sitting for days at a time, and then having to come back again some days or weeks later.

He’s had appointments with his probation officer and a court-appointed therapist. They are sometimes scheduled on the same day and time, so he has to miss one or another of them.

I’m afraid to ask about the court fees that are piling up, so I don’t.

But I suspect that if he doesn’t pay them, at some point, he will be picked up on what’s called a “bench warrant” and once again trundled into court.

A Very Broken Court System

He visits me regularly, when he can, to let me know he’s okay. His spirits are good and I marvel at his resilience.

But frankly, his recounting of his court appearances didn’t make much sense to me… until I read this article in the New Yorker.

Then it all fell into place.

While Clemetin does have a somewhat checkered history with the legal system, it’s the legal system that doesn’t make sense.

I understand why Clemetin shoplifts now and again. But it’s far harder for me to understand why we have a legal system in our country that is so badly broken.

What Will Happen to Clemetin?

As for immediate updates… Clemetin is scheduled to go to court for the heroin charge on October 30th. He seems confident that the charge will be thrown out of court.

I certainly hope he’s right.

But chances are that won’t happen any time soon. And it’s just by the good graces of a reasonable judge that he can spend the interim period free rather than locked up in Rikers Island.

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Read and Learn from the New Yorker Article

Take a few minutes to read the article I referenced above in the New Yorker article,  Three Years on Rikers Without Trial.  It will really open your eyes to the injustice that many groups face, especially young black males.

When we recognize problems like this as a society, we are much more likely to solve them.

Regarding Clemetin, I’ll let you know on Facebook what happens!

  • bethraps

    Andrea, thank you so much for your witness and your giving us this information (the New Yorker article). I read it. Most of it! It is tough to read, but we are lucky: it’s an “up” story overall…very slightly up but there is justice being served in it. Browder really sounds like someone who will go far if he stays alive.