Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell was returned to jail yesterday. The judge, J.P. Mauffrey, who has refused to recuse himself from the case despite calls that he do so, activated suspended sentences on previous charges against Bell after ruling that the fight that precipitated the “Free the Jena 6” movement was a violation of his probation. The charges, which had been adjudicated in juvenile court, were not made public.
Mauffrey had previously denied Bell bond although all the other Jena defendants had received it. His argument was that Bell’s record made his participation in the attack on white student Justin Barker more egregious.
It’s difficult to determine whether this action by Judge Mauffrey is “getting back” at Bell (and his parents) for their participation in the Jena protests or a legitimate outcome of Bell’s terms of probation. Given some of the other behavior of officials in this case, one has to wonder about the impartiality of the judge. Given the anger and defensiveness of the prosecutor, one has to wonder whether any of the Jena 6 can get fair trials. Given the determination of the judge and prosecutor to punish blacks involved in the Jena troubles severely while whites involved receive little or no punishment, one has to wonder if justice and Jena can share anything besides the same first letter.