crime & punishment in Louisiana
UPDATE to this story - Canadian Press:
Inmate in landmark Supreme Court case denied parole
Toronto Sun: At age 17, he killed a deputy; at 71, he could get parole: 'The world has passed him by'
Above: A file photo from a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, paper following the trial of 17-year-old Henry Montgomery, convicted for the 1963 murder of a sheriff's deputy.
It's a crime when imprisoned teens have no hope of rehabilitation.
One can't help wondering if Henry Montgomery had been "white" would the Toronto Sun headline have read, "allegedly killed a deputy" or at least "convicted of killing". Anyway, the Toronto Sun article goes on to say, in part:
Keep in mind that Montgomery's pals may have nicknamed him "Wolf Man" but it wasn't because they considered him dangerous. They were making fun of his prominent incisors - and he apparently took it good-naturedly. There is nothing in reports of his youth nor in a description of him by a fellow inmate that suggests he was in any way a violent person.
Also note that he was 17 in 10th Grade. No wonder he played hooky. It had to be awful for him!
Split-second flash of a gun still resonates 52 years later
Henry Montgomery is at center of this week’s Supreme Court case on life sentences for juveniles
Excerpts [bolding added]:
The now-aging daughter of the slain police officer evidently blames Montgomery for the fact that she and her brothers as teens got into trouble. Fair enough, maybe. But who can Montgomery blame for his own truancy for which Becky Wilson's father confronted him? Perhaps God for giving him the "mentality of a three-year-old"? Or life itself because his mother was autistic and his elderly grandparents had to raise him? Or because there doesn't appear to have been any father at all in the picture?
Was Montgomery's own birth the result of the kind of exploitation of autistic females that exists even now? From Scientific American: Unfortunately, the autistic tendency to be direct and take things literally can make affected girls and women easy prey for sexual exploitation.
Especially if she's Black?
I would have to say there are a lot of reasons why Hurt's family could consider Montgomery's hardship as well as their own. But even a grandson of the slain deputy opined that Montgomery, at 17, was old enough to know right from wrong. Ignoring the fact that so were officer Hurt's children when the daughter became pregnant and the sons dropped out of school. in fact, possibly more so, since they presumably were of normal intelligence.
This is not to absolve anyone of the crime of Hurt's death, or downplay what his family must have suffered, but their reasoning for maintaining a punitive stance, after all this time, is misguided at best.
Not to mention that there is no real evidence, except the word of Hurt's colleagues that Montgomery was indeed the one who shot Hurt. He was shot, alright, but it took a dragnet of anybody in the area who was Black, before finally settling on Montgomery as the killer. And no doubt they had ways to extract a confession from a mentally challenged Black youth, however innocent he may or may not have been.
And if he was set up, retrieving a gun from his home would not have been difficult for police officers.
I can't help wondering if anybody has asked Montgomery if he actually wants to step out into this cold-hearted climate where, even at the highest levels of society, racism still roils barely below the surface.
The Louisiana fight against freedom continues:
Louisiana's prosecutors move to deny parole eligibility for about 1/3 of prisoners convicted of murder while teens
Photo: Storied civil-rights lawyer Johnnie Jones, now 95, defended teenager Henry Montgomery for six years, through two trials. He is not involved with the current case. Sheriff's deputies were critical of his desegregation work and his defense of Montgomery, Jones said, recalling the time he received eight traffic tickets in one day. Daymon Gardner
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