Sunday, August 24, 2008
White Flight...Prison Breaks
Just over three decades ago, an interesting trend was taking place in the state of Michigan…women were escaping from prison like crazy!
In 1975, Rebecca Hatcher jumped the fence of a Michigan’s Scott Prison, walking away from her sentence for unarmed assault with intent to rob. After her escape, she moved to Tennessee, married, had a kid, and got on with her life.
In 1976, Susan LeFevre cleared a fence from Michigan’s Scott Prison, leaving behind her sentence for selling heroin to an undercover cop. After her escape, she moved to California and into a “mansion,” married, had three kids, and got on with her spendy life.
Technology and snitches caught up with these two women, and they are all now back in the “D.”
There is something interesting about all of these cases. First, the media persists in referring to these (White) women in cutesy terms such as the “Moms” and “Desperate Housewives.” Second, both women have people advocating for their release since, it is argued, they stayed out of trouble after their escapes.
Sisterdoc is getting whiffs of racial disparity here.
35 years ago, Barbara Corley, who is Black, walked away from the Detroit House of Corrections. Barbara was in prison for assault, writing bad checks, and carrying a concealed weapon. After her escape, she moved to South Carolina, married, and got on with her new life. Corley claims the state of Michigan knew exactly where she was since back in 1980, accompanied by her attorney, she turned herself in to authorities for her escape. She claims that she worked out a plea-deal. The State says they have no record of this, and believe she is lying. There are other things missing in addition to these purported legal records, there are no no pretty family pictures of Corley, no cute "Desperate Housewife" headlines, no calls for her release.
Also, take this week’s case of Robert Cooper (White) versus that of Jason Smith (Black). Cooper is a known scam artist. He is described as charming and a smooth talker. He is wanted in at least three states for ripping off the elderly—dozens of them to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Police knew of Cooper’s “trademark ruse,” as they called it, of faking chest pains and then walking away from hospitals and police custody when police leave him unguarded. And still, they left him uncuffed and unguarded in a Michigan hospital…you know the rest. Compare this to Jason Smith, a car thief and burglar, also wanted in three states. Smith is described as a “huge arrest.” Smith has real heart problems and even underwent emergency heart surgery in a Michigan hospital. In Smith’s case, police bragged it never even crossed their minds to leave him unguarded, while in Cooper’s case police said it would have been too expensive in time and resources to keep him under guard for 48 hours. Police hope technology or a snitch will locate Cooper one day. As for Smith, he has deputies posted on him around the clock while he spends the next two weeks recovering from open-heart surgery.
According to scholar Richard Culp, historically Whites have been more successful at prison escapes than Blacks. I am beginning to get a sense as to why. Sisterdoc says prisoners should be treated equitably. Stop the trend of minimum security for some, but maximum security for others. Keep our streets safe...fairly.
(Image: Susan LeFevre and fam'; Barbara Corley)