I just came across this story that I feel compelled to share. This is a story of privilege in a Texas court, where money and connections are not supposed to count, where we find one judge and two men from very different sides of the tracks who appear to get anything but equal justice.
On the one side is Alex Wood, son of religious royalty Reverend John Wood and brother-in-law to eight-term US Congressmen Chet Edwards. On the other side is Tyrone Brown, a poor African American boy with no connections and no political clout.
In 1990, Brown pleaded guilty to armed robbery in which he stole $2 and was sentenced to ten years probation. In 1995, Wood pleaded guilty to shooting a killing a prostitute and he too was sentenced to ten years probation. While it is bad enough that Wood did not receive harsher punishment for his crime, it’s what happens during the two men’s probation that makes this story so outraging.
After only a few months into his probation, Judge Dean sentenced Brown to life in prison for smoking marijuana. Wood on the other hand remained a free man even though he was caught twice with possession of cocaine during his probation, a much more serious crime.
After nearly 17 years of a life sentence spent in jail, Tyrone Brown was released from prison on March 16, 2007 due to the good will and persistence of University of Florida law school graduate Charlie Douglas.
After ABC’s 20/20 showcased this story, many people began asking the question, “Are we really equal under the law?”
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