First Posted: 10/9/2008 9:34:09 AM | Last Updated: 10/9/2008 9:34:09 AM
By R. Scott Teets
CINCINNATI — The local NAACP is again on the attack that the Hamilton County justice system is unfair to minorities.
The Cincinnati branch is pointing to two incidents last week it says typifies the disparity. The first is the case of Timothy Reed, 19, whose six-week-old daughter was allegedly assaulted in his apartment. Reed, an African American, said he was asleep when the infant was bitten by a two-year-old child who had climbed out from a crib.
The Westwood man was ordered held on $500,000 bond on a charge of endangering children for the August incident.
Reed was expected to be in court Tuesday for a bond reduction hearing.
“Can (County Prosecutor) Joe Deters now explain why Mr. Timothy Reed is now sitting in jail under a $500,000 straight bond and Mr. Reed’s baby is not dead?” NAACP chapter President Christopher Smitherman said.
“The key question is: did he intentionally hurt his child?” Smitherman said. “The Cincinnati NAACP does not condone harming any children. The issue that the Cincinnati NAACP continues to raise is that there are two criminal justice systems in Hamilton County led by Prosecutor Joe Deters: one for African-American citizens and one for white residents.”
A spokesperson for Deters said the Reed case is Cincinnati’s – not the county’s case – and, therefore, would not comment.
The second case Smitherman cites is that of Chennel Pace, a 29-year-old mother who was arrested by sheriff’s deputies Sept. 28 and charged with four counts of endangering children after she left her four children at home alone while she worked at a Walnut Hills nursing home. It’s unclear how long the children were alone.
Pace was initially jailed, but later freed on her own recognizance while awaiting trial. Her four children, ranging in ages from 12 years to 18 months, were removed by Job and Family Services.
“Ms. Pace was not in a bar while her children were at home,” Smitherman said. “She was at work; yet, the Hamilton County system has criminalized her and taken away all of her children.”
“The Hamilton County Criminal Justice system is racist,” Smitherman said. “I ask the broader community to consider these examples and then ponder, ‘What does racism look like?’”
This is Smitherman’s second attack on the county justice system in about a month.
He earlier called the justice system racist, citing the case of a white professional from Wyoming whose 11-month-old child died Aug. 20 after being left in her minivan. She was not prosecuted.
In mid-September, Deters defended his office for not prosecuting Jodie Edwards, saying race had nothing to with that case – or any other case his office handles.
Deters said the issue in the Edwards case was whether the mom was “reckless,” the legal standard that applies for a conviction in Ohio. He called the death an unfortunate accident wherein the mother simply forgot to drop the child off at the babysitter.
“It’s easy to shoot your mouth off,” Deters said. “It’s very reckless to make allegations of racial disparity when you have no proof of it.”
The prosecutor challenged Smitherman to identify any similar cases where a white person was treated differently from an African American.
The local NAACP chief believes the Reed and Pace cases meet the prosecutors’ challenge.
“Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said that there are no problems – no racial disparities – in Hamilton County’s court system. He claims that the law is being applied equally,” Smitherman said.
“The criminal justice system in Hamilton County is broken. African Americans continue to be extended high, unconstitutional bonds; are over-prosecuted; and over-incarcerated in Hamilton County. Timothy Reed has already served more time in jail than both white women,” said Smitherman.