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The mainstream media will be making a big deal today about the leniency Baltimore Raven Ray Rice received from the NFL after knocking out his then finance in Atlantic City in February. TMZ obtained an released a video of the incident this morning. Sources are quoted as saying that NFL officials saw the video before suspending Rice for the first two games of this season and docking his pay for a third game.
But the NFL would not be subject to the public outrage they are experiencing had the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office not been lenient with Rice first. Rice was first charged with simple assault. The charges were upgraded to aggravated assault by an Atlantic County Grand Jury. Rice faced a possible five years in State Prison. But the Prosecutor accepted Rice’s application into the Pre-trial Intervention Program for First Offenders and his Not Guilty plea which leaves him off the hook if he stays out of trouble for a year.
Maybe Justice was done in Atlantic County regarding Rice’s case. His fiance apparently forgave him. They got married the day after Rice was indicted. She publicly apologized for her role in their skirmish. The couple has a daughter. This result in this case is probably best for their family …if there is no future domestic violence.
But another high profile case in Atlantic County has led many, including this writer, to question the judgment and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Shaneen Allen of Philadelphia was pulled over for an unsafe lane change in Atlantic County last October. The single mother informed the police officer that she was in possession of a handgun that she was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania. She thought her Pennsylvania license to carry was good in New Jersey. It isn’t.
Allen was arrested for possession of the weapon and hollow point bullets. Why hollow point bullets? She told me that she bought them when she bought the gun because they were cheaper than the other bullets offered. Allen spent 40 days in jail before she made bail.
Like Rice, Allen has no previous criminal record. Yet the Atlantic County Prosecutor rejected her application for Pre-Trial Intervention. She faces three years in State Prison if convicted. According to published reports, the plea deal offered would make her a felon and would also require jail time. Her best hope at trial is for jury nullification, as the facts are not in dispute.
At his press conference in Long Branch on August 19, Governor Chris Christie said he was following Allen’s case closely, but that he would take no action until the judicial process had run its course. He said that after the trial, if Allen is convicted, he would review the case and that if he believed justice was not done he had the option of issuing a pardon or commuting her sentence.
Justice is already not being served in the Allen case. Acting Attorney General John Hoffman should instruct Atlantic County Prosecutor James McClain to admit Allen to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program or Governor Christie should intervene and grant Allen a pardon immediately.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office have said they want to send a message with Allen’s case. What is the message when contrasting Allen’s case to Rice’s case?
It seems to me it is a message that fame and money will get you a better deal in the justice system. Or it could be a message of misogyny, as the wife beater got off easy and the single mother is facing the max. The message could be that beating a woman is less of a crime that carrying a gun, even if there was no harm done with the gun and it was a legal gun 60 miles to the west.
Hoffman or Christie should send a different message. They should do it soon.