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Black Teacher May Get 15 Years in Prison for Cutting in Line at Wal-Mart

By Devona Walker, The Loop. Posted November 25, 2009.

This is not how our criminal justice system is supposed to operate.

Think about the story of Heather Ellis, then think about the fact that half of the people in the United States prison system are Black folks, even though we make up just 13 percent of the population. Then, ask yourself if our criminal justice system is operating the way it's supposed to operate.

Three years ago, Heather Ellis, a college student at the time, was waiting on line at Wal-Mart. She decided to get into another line, then got into a verbal altercation with customers. The cops were called. And she is facing a possible 15-year sentence in prison.

Black folks keep focusing on Ellis' background — she's a young school teacher with no record. Seemingly a good person, right? While that is true, my point is that should be irrelevant. Even if Ellis were a convicted felon, even if she had been stuffing DVDs down her pants, she should still not be facing 15 years in prison. Our criminal justice system is supposed to work for all of us, not just the good Blacks, not just those of us with character above reproach.

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