A little over four months ago, a Florida judge sentenced 31-year-old Marissa Alexander to 20 years in prison for three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Alexander fired a gun into the air in an attempt to scare her violent husband, who’d gone into a rage after reading text message exchanges between Alexander and her ex-husband. “That’s when he strangled me. He put his hands around my neck,” Alexander said.
When her husband, Rico Gray, saw the pistol at her side, Alexander claims he threatened to kill her — that’s when she decided to make the hasty decision to fire the weapon. Instead of aiming the gun towards Gray, Alexander aimed the weapon to the ceiling. ”I believe when he threatened to kill me, that’s what he was absolutely going to do. That’s what he intended to do. Had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I would not be here,” Alexander said. She said she fired into the air intending to scare him away, and Gray quickly left the house with his two children. No one was hurt in the incident, but Alexander sits in jail facing a 20-year sentence on three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Alexander attempted to use Florida’s “stand your ground” law — the same law that George Zimmerman is using to defend his decision to kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February this year; however, for some reason the law, did not apply to Alexander’s case. Many are questioning whether or not race is playing a role in the judge’s decision to sentence her 20 years.
So why isn’t the black community in an uproar of this ridiculous sentence? Comedian Niecy Nash just sent her condolences to the murder victim of a man who killed her brother in 1993. Robert Lee Heard was sixteen at the time that he killed Nash’s brother. After serving time in a juvenile corrections facility until 2002, Heard attempted to strike again in 2003, and was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and sent to prison until 2011. This past weekend, Heard struck again — this time stabbing his 35-year-old wife to death. Why does our justice system allow a two-time violent offender to roam the streets victimizing more people while Marissa Alexander spends the next 20 years of her life behind bars for discharging her weapon in the air?
As privately owned prison management company, Corrections Corporation of America seeks to lure 48 states with a $250 million-dollar proposal that requests a 90% occupancy rate, one must wonder whether or not African Americans realize they’ll more than likely make the mass majority of the 90% occupancy rate required — if all 48 states agree to adopt the proposal as Ohio has. At what point will African Americans aggressively seek true justice? Expressing that African Americans should stay out of the justice system does not address the fact that when we are in the justice system, we’re treated unfairly.