Another Black Man up on “Terrorist” Charges

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This is in Dubuque, Iowa.  Michael C. Lewis, 25, is charged with discharging a firearm into a car and building. The result? He’s charged with “one count of going armed with intent and two counts of terrorism.”

“Going armed with intent is a class D felony punishable by no more than five years in prison and a fine of between $750 and $7,500. Terrorism is a class B felony punishable by a period of confinement of not more than fifty years.”

People sometimes go off, sometimes they commit crimes, sometimes  they are career criminals, sometimes not. Justice requires making distinctions.  But in no case should people be thrown into prison for 10 years or 20 years or 50 years, the possible terrorism penalty in this case, as a terrorism “add-on” to all the other possible conventional crimes. Terrorism statutes with such penalties applied in such lax ways are in and of themselves cruel and unusual punishment. It is totally senseless to accuse this man of being a terrorist. Lawmakers have gone mad.

And since black people are disproportionately represented in all stages of the system (arrests, prosecutions, incarcerations, mandatory sentences), terrorism laws are already producing a disproportionate impact on black people, especially men, as men commit more crimes than women. (Thanks to Jerry Green for bringing this case to my attention.)

8:57 am on June 29, 2013