People want to live in a just society.
So many Caribbean people have fled their ancestral homelands in search of refuge in foreign lands, like the US. If our expatriates are seeking a more just society, then they will be sadly disappointed with the American experience.
Ah, the American legal system! So many courts – County, Circuit, District, Appeals and Supreme – and yet justice is so elusive. One population groups gets too much mercy and one population group gets too much punishment.
These are not just my words alone. Consider these anecdotes.
First, we have the sentencing – yesterday June 13, 2019 – of John Vandemoer, the Stanford sailing coach who confessed to racketeering charges in connection with the college entrance scam. He will serve no time in prison. He is White. See the full story here:
Title: Former Stanford sailing coach gets no prison time in the college admissions scam
By: Mark Morales, CNN
Former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer will serve no time in prison in connection with the college entrance scam. He is the first among 50 people charged in connection with the scheme to be sentenced.
Vandemoer was sentenced to two years supervised release and a $10,000 fine. He must spend the first six months of the sentence in home detention with electronic monitoring, Massachusetts Judge Rya Zobel said.
Vandemoer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering for arranging bribes of $110,000 and $160,000 to the sailing program and then designating two applicants, who had no sailing experience, as sailing recruits, according to his criminal complaint.
Neither student completed the application process, university officials said.
The 50 people charged in the scam include coaches, parents, and members of mastermind William Rick Singer‘s inner circle, who were arrested in connection with the scandal in March.
“Mr Vandemoer is probably the least culpable,” Judge Zobel said during sentencing. “They (the others charged) took money for themselves. He did not do that. All the money he took went directly to the sailing program.”
Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen had recommended a 13-month prison sentence for Vandemoer, arguing that it would help deter others in powerful university positions from similar crimes and that punishment would help restore confidence in the admission system.
“His actions not only deceived and defrauded the university that employed him, but also validated a national cynicism over college admissions by helping wealthy and unscrupulous applicants enjoy an unjust advantage over those who either lack deep pockets or are simply unwilling to cheat to get ahead,” Rosen wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed on June 7.
Vandemoer’s attorney, Robert Fisher, wrote to Judge Zobel in a memorandum on Friday that he should get probation and not a prison sentence, arguing that he didn’t pocket any of the money, didn’t take any money from the university and that this was his only instance of bad judgement.
“Mr. Vandemoer failed in one instance to live up to the high expectations he sets for himself,” Fisher wrote. “He fully accepts responsibility for his mistake. Mr. Vandemoer is determined to make amends for this mistake move on with his life and continue to provide for his family.”
Just two days before Vandemoer’s sentencing, Stanford University officials submitted a victim impact statement which details how Vandemoer, who traded his slots reserved for student-athletes for bribes, has damaged the university.
“Mr. Vandemoer’s actions in this matter are profoundly disappointing and especially so as he had a reputation of caring deeply for his student-athletes,” said Debra Zumwalt, vice president and general counsel for Stanford University in a statement.
The impact statement charged that Vandemoer and Singer not only undermined the public’s trust in the college admissions process, but also cost the university valuable time and money dealing with the fallout from the federal investigation.
Stanford fired Vandemoer the very same day he plead guilty.
“I spent my life trying to be a good, moral person and here, I made a mistake,” Vandemoer said when given a chance to address the court Wednesday.
The former coach apologized to the school, alumni, the sailing team and his family and friends.
“I deserve all of this. I caused it and for that I’m deeply ashamed.”
A third student was identified by the university as having worked with Singer and Vandemoer to get admitted into Stanford, university officials said. That student’s admission was rescinded and their credits were vacated, according to the impact statement.
Stanford officials previously said the Key Worldwide Foundation, Singer’s sham charity, contributed a total of $770,000 to the sailing program in the form of three separate gifts.
That money, Zumwalt said in the statement, was considered tainted, and university officials are working with the California Attorney General to donate that money for the public’s good.
“Stanford does not wish to benefit in any way from Mr. Vandemoer’s conduct,” Zumwalt said.
Twenty-seven letters of support for Vandemoer were sent to Judge Zobel, all pleading for leniency.
“I must say they are an extraordinary group of letters … that speak of the person they love and support,” Judge Zobel said during sentencing. “That is highly unusual in this setting.”
Vandemoer’s wife, Molly Vandemoer, wrote about how the former university sailing coach found a therapist shortly after his firing and is working toward his MBA as a way to put his life back together.
“I know he made a mistake,” Molly wrote. “I know it is extremely costly to his livelihood, to our family, etc. But I know he will never do something like this again.”
Clinton Hayes, once Vandemoer’s top assistant, became the interim head of the sailing team after the coach was fired by the university. Hayes wrote about how Vandemoer put student athletes first, letting them skip out on sailing meets for valuable internships or important trips, something he said spoke to the coach’s selflessness.
“John truly cared that everyone of our student athletes left Stanford a better person and productive member of society…” Hates wrote. “John always did what was right for each individual.”
Other letters came from former students, parents, and other family members.
CNN’s Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.
Source: Retrieved June 14, 2019 from: https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/11/us/college-admissions-scandal-john-vandemoer/index.html
Just 1 day in prison … Wow!
The defendant in this case gets 1 day in jail, time served, and a 13-month suspended sentence – a “slap on the wrist” for a crime that undermines the entire US college admissions integrity.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is the treatment of Black defendants in the court system. According to this previous blog-commentary by the movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean, Black people are usually sentenced for longer jail-time by judges whose political affiliation is associated with the Republican Party.
See the Encore of that full blog-commentary here:
Go Lean Commentary – ‘Time to Go’ – Blacks get longer sentences from ‘Republican’ Judges
“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are” – Old Adage
This Old Adage was drummed in me as a youth; I may have wanted to question its validity, but time has proven its accuracy. As humans, we are affected by the people we associate with; their values, principles, character, aspirations – or lack thereof – will have an effect on us. This statement even harmonizes with the Bible scripture at 1 Corinthians 15:33, which states:
“Bad companions ruin good character.” – Today’s English Version
This commentary highlights a disturbing trend in American jurisprudence; it turns out that among judges that associates with the conservative political parties or the liberal political parties, one group consistently sentences Black defendants to longer prison sentences. This is indicative of more than just the tolerance of criminality; this shows some hidden bias, that severely endangers the Black populations in America. These judges, despite claims of non-partisanship, are affected by their party.
Say it ain’t so!
The party with the harsher sentences is the Republican Party or GOP (for Grand Old Party).
Sometimes, we need to step back and look at the whole picture before we can notice trends and leanings. This is the common sense in the old expression: “One cannot see the forest for the trees”. This was the purpose of a study on judicial bias; it looked at a range of 500,000 cases to summarize its findings. Intelligence and wisdom can be gleaned from this data.
The numbers – and conclusions – must not be ignored. See the full story here:
Title: Black Defendants Get Longer Sentences From Republican-Appointed Judges, Study Finds
By: Adam Liptak
WASHINGTON — Judges appointed by Republican presidents gave longer sentences to black defendants and shorter ones to women than judges appointed by Democrats, according to a new study that analyzed data on more than half a million defendants.
“Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to three more months than similar nonblacks and female defendants to two fewer months than similar males compared with Democratic-appointed judges,” the study found, adding, “These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.”
The study was conducted by two professors at Harvard Law School, Alma Cohen and Crystal S. Yang. They examined the sentencing practices of about 1,400 federal trial judges over more than 15 years, relying on information from the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Sentencing Commission and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Douglas A. Berman, an authority on sentencing law at Ohio State University, said the study contained “amazing new empirical research.”
“It’s an extraordinarily important contribution to our statistical understanding of sentencing decision making in federal courts over the last two decades,” he said.
It has long been known that there is an overall racial sentencing gap, with judges of all political affiliations meting out longer sentences to black offenders. The new study confirmed this, finding that black defendants are sentenced to 4.8 months more than similar offenders of other races.
It was also well known, and perhaps not terribly surprising, that Republican appointees are tougher on crime over all, imposing sentences an average of 2.4 months longer than Democratic appointees.
But the study’s findings on how judges’ partisan affiliations affected the racial and gender gaps were new and startling.
“The racial gap by political affiliation is three months, approximately 65 percent of the baseline racial sentence gap,” the authors wrote. “We also find that Republican-appointed judges give female defendants two months less in prison than similar male defendants compared to Democratic-appointed judges, 17 percent of the baseline gender sentence gap.”
The two kinds of gaps appear to have slightly different explanations. “We find evidence that gender disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by violent offenses and drug offenses,” the study said. “We also find that racial disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by drug offenses.”
The authors of the study sounded a note of caution. “The precise reasons why these disparities by political affiliation exist remain unknown and we caution that our results cannot speak to whether the sentences imposed by Republican- or Democratic-appointed judges are warranted or ‘right,’” the authors wrote. “Our results, however, do suggest that Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges treat defendants differently on the basis of their race and gender given that we observe robust disparities despite the random assignment of cases to judges within the same court.”
The study is studded with fascinating tidbits. Black judges treat male and female offenders more equally than white judges do. Black judges appointed by Republicans treat black offenders more leniently than do other Republican appointees.
More experienced judges are less apt to treat black and female defendants differently. Judges in states with higher levels of racism, as measured by popular support for laws against interracial marriage, are more likely to treat black defendants more harshly than white ones.
The Trump administration has been quite successful in stocking the federal bench with its appointees, and by some estimates the share of Republican appointees on the federal district courts could rise to 50 percent in 2020, from 34 percent in early 2017.
The study said these trends were likely to widen the sentencing gaps.
“Our estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of Republican-appointed judges in each court would increase the racial sentencing gap by approximately 5 percent and the gender sentencing gap by roughly 2 percent,” the authors wrote. “During an average four-year term, a Republican president has the potential to alter the partisan composition of the district courts by over 15 percentage points, potentially increasing the racial and gender sentencing gap by 7.5 and 3 percent, respectively.”
There are a couple of reasons to question that prediction. The Trump administration has been more energetic in appointing appeals court judges than trial judges. And in recent years many conservatives have started to shift positions on sentencing policy. The very scope of the study, which considered sentences imposed from 1999 to 2015, could mask trends in the later years.
Supreme Court justices like to say that partisan affiliation plays no role in judicial decision making.
“There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, said at his confirmation hearing last year. “We just have judges in this country.”
Political scientists have disagreed, finding that Republican appointees are markedly more likely to vote in a conservative direction than Democratic ones. Senate Republicans, by refusing to hold hearings for Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, seemed to agree.
So has Mr. Trump. “We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!” he tweeted in March.
But judicial ideology is one thing. The race and gender gaps identified by the new study present a different and difficult set of questions.
Professor Berman said the study should prompt both research and reflection. “It only begins a conversation,” he said, “about what sets of factors really influence judges at sentencing in modern times.”
Follow Adam Liptak on Twitter: @adamliptak.
Source: New York Times – published May 28, 2018; retrieved June 26, 2018 from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/us/politics/black-defendants-women-prison-terms-study.html
This article alludes to a stereotype; one where women are sentenced lighter, but Blacks harsher. This stereotype transcends the entire history of the United States … right up to this day. The more things change, the more they remain the same!
This commentary continues the series on Time to Go, considering the reality for life of the Caribbean’s Black-and-Brown population in the US. This entry is Number 10 in this series from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean which started in September 2016 with the first 6 issues. Now, this revisit, this commentary, examines a disturbing trend with the sentences of federal court judges; these ones are appointed by the President of the United States. Needless to say, Presidents appoint judges that reflect and respect their values – it’s a natural expectation that they would have the same (virtual) association. So “we” can tell a lot about federal judges, just by knowing which President appointed them.
These were the 2016 submissions in this series:
- Time to Go: Spot-on for Protest
- Time to Go: No Respect for our Hair
- Time to Go: Logic of Senior Immigration
- Time to Go: Marginalizing Our Vote
- Time to Go: American Vices; Don’t Follow
- Time to Go: Public Schools for Black-and-Brown
Now, we consider these 5 new entries along that same theme:
- Time to Go: Windrush – 70th Anniversary
- Time to Go: Mandatory Guns – Say it Ain’t So
- Time to Go: Racist History of Loitering
- Time to Go: Blacks Get Longer Sentences From ‘Republican’ Judges
- Time to Go: States must have Population Increases
All of these commentaries relate to Caribbean people and their disposition in foreign lands – in this case in the US – and why they need to Go Back Home. Surely, it is obvious and evident that institutional racism is “Alive & Well” in the US. We can and must do better at home. The Go Lean book – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to assuage the societal defects in this region. It is “out of scope” for our movement to fix America; our efforts to reform and transform is limited to the Caribbean.
This is as opposed to Democratic Judges! Yes, this is a reference to specific political parties in the US. Yet, we are not making these assessments with any political leaning. Rather, this movement behind the Go Lean book and blogs, the SFE Foundation, is an apolitical organization with no favoritism for one political party over the other. In fact, the first 6 commentaries in this Time to Go series were published during the presidential administration of Barack Obama, a Democrat.
The subject of Optimized Criminal Justice is a failing for all previous presidential administrations – though Blacks lean more to the Democrats – see/listen to the AUDIO-Podcast in the Appendix below. This is a familiar theme for this Go Lean commentary. This movement have consistently related the lack of respect for those in America fitting the Black-and-Brown description; consider these prior submissions:
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14627||Cop-on-Black Shootings – In America’s DNA|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14413||Repairing the Breach: Hurt People Hurt People|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8202||Lessons Learned from American Dysfunctional Minority Relations|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8200||Climate of Hate for American Minorities|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7221||Street naming for Martin Luther King unveils the real America|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5527||American Defects: Racism – Is It Over?|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4863||Video of Police Shooting: Worth a Million Words|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4447||Probe of Ferguson, Missouri shows cops & court bias|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=546||Book Review – ‘The Divide’ – Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap|
|http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=341||Hypocritical US slams Caribbean human rights practices|
It is a dangerous proposition to be Black in America. This is why this movement consistently urges the Black-and-Brown of the Caribbean to Stay Home! In fact, The Bahamas urged its majority Black population (and the young men) to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the US and dealing with police authorities. There is no doubt that the America of Old – would have been no place for Caribbean people to seek refuge. But now we are asserting that the disposition is still the same:
- Our Black-and-Brown Diaspora should plan to repatriate back to the Caribbean
- While our young people, in the homeland, who plan to prosper where planted rather than setting their sights on American shores.
Despite the fact that this society – modern America – is still no place for Black-and-Brown Caribbean people to seek refuge, all 30 member-states of the region continue to suffer from an abominable brain drain rate – one report proclaims 70 percent – in which so many Caribbean citizens have emigrated to the US (and other places). We must resist this bad trend! How?!
- Good messaging
- Heavy-lifting to reform and transform the societal engines
The Go Lean book identifies the reasons why people abandon their homeland as “push and pull”. While the “push” refers to the societal defects that people take refuge from, the “pull” is mostly due to messaging. Our people perceive that the US is better for them, and that landing in the US is the panacea – cure-all – for all societal short-comings. Good messaging will mitigate that trend. Yet, still, we must do the hard work for fixing our society.
The Go Lean book asserts that it is easier for the Black-and-Brown populations in the Caribbean to prosper where planted in the Caribbean, rather than in the United States. Plus, we need these people’s help to reform and transform our society. We need some to lead, and some just to follow. We need some to produce, and some just to consume. We need growth! So abandonment is counter-productive.
This is the quest of the Go Lean/CU roadmap. The book presents 370 pages of instructions for how to reform and transform our Caribbean member-states. It stresses the key community ethos that needs to be adopted, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies necessary to optimize the societal engines in a community. The CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives for optimizing our societal engines:
- Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
- Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
- Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.
As related in this blog series, it is Time to Go! We have a better chance of optimizing our society in the Caribbean for our Black-and-Brown majority populations than the US will do for our people; we can actually be better than America. Just look, their distinguished judges are still adjudicating like its 1868, and not 2018. America has gone “2 steps forward and 1 step backwards”.
Now is the Time to Go and now is the time to lean-in to this Go Lean/CU roadmap. This quest is conceivable, believable and achievable. Yes, we can … reform and transform our society. We can make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂
Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.
AUDIO Podcast – Why Did Black Voters Flee The Republican Party In The 1960s? – https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/07/14/331298996/why-did-black-voters-flee-the-republican-party-in-the-1960s
Posted July 14, 2014 – If you’d walked into a gathering of older black folks 100 years ago, you’d have found that most of them would have been Republican.
Yep. Republican. Party of Lincoln. Party of the Emancipation. Party that pushed not only black votes but black politicians during that post-bellum period known as Reconstruction.
Today, it’s almost the exact opposite. That migration of black voters away from the GOP reached its last phase 50 years ago this week.