'Screwed, Again' - A Commentary
By James Mardis, KERA 90.1 commentator
Dallas, TX – The short version of the story is that an already-pregnant, 16-year-old ward of the foster care system killed the 39-year-old man in Mesquite who had been paying her for sex. He was not the father of her baby, just someone who worked at a neighborhood store. She was an easy pick, already knocked up by the 20-year-old son of her guardian, having no other family and, as the reporter tells it, "no direction." She was Black; already cycled through abuses by a drugged-out mother; and apparently not on the radar of any such "No Kid Left Behind" policy at the ripe old age of 16.
I spoke with the prosecutor, who conceded problems with getting a conviction for capital murder. In fact, she could have been sentenced to as little as probation, due to the circumstances of the murder. So, at 16 she was declared an adult by the court, in spite of this obvious case of child molestation. My liberal heart bleeds for this girl, but that is not enough for this convicted-by-plea-bargain killer, who will spend 40 years in prison.
But, is there a CHANCE that we could ever prosecute guardians whose older children become sexually involved with their under-aged wards? Neither the baby's father or the guardian will be prosecuted, despite clearly violating the law. The whole affair brings to mind characters from the movie "Antoine Fisher." Except this foster care victim at 5'2" and 102 lbs. will never fight for herself.
Is there a CHANCE that the school system and the juvenile justice system will ever have these documented and troubled children on their radar? Maybe the truant officers in the Mesquite ISD and the social services caseworker were a little busy. We can't expect all children to be trackable, but Ms. Hamilton's situation was clearly the reddest flag: drugged-out mother, multiple foster homes, impregnated by a 20-year-old man.
And last, is there even the slightest CHANCE the judicial system and society in general will ever look at sexually active, or more to the point, sexually activated Black girls and honestly not see the stylized, Gangsta Rap video queen? Our society is overflowing with statistics for unwed, uneducated, un-everything Black girls. Meanwhile, right beneath our collective noses, one that we should have been watching closer than all the rest based on her history of being put-upon and pushed away, was being, in legal terminology, assaulted. And in spite of being pregnant, was being paid to have sex with a grown man. In any other circumstance than his death, he would be considered a classic sexual predator.
There is just no way that the obvious troubled youth in our society should fall so hard through the cracks. This is not a Third World country. This is a major metropolitan area with billion-dollar school budgets, minority and female political leaders, a desire for Olympic glory and too much chest-thumping to go around on issues that simply don't matter. What happened to this girl was wrong, all day long. Shame on the prosecutor, the guardian, the judicial system and all those others who sat by and watched or prodded this fiasco of a young life along.
James Mardis is a writer from Dallas. If you have opinions about this commentary, call us at (214) 740-9338 or contact us through our website at kera.org.