16th June 1944 was the darkest day of the 20th century in America. Justice was served for two little white girls in Alcolu in South Carolina by serving cruelty to a young boy. The judiciary failed to make a rational and sensible decision for a juvenile mind. 14-year old George Stinney Jr. was convicted for murdering 7-year old Mary Emma and raping and murdering her 11-year old friend Betty June. George was electrocuted with an electric current of 4000 volts which not only seemed inhumane to the nation but also to Betty’s father and brother who witnessed the punishment. As Betty’s elder sister, Vermelle Tucker said, ‘it really worried him’.
Everyone wanted justice for both the little girls but not at the cost of shaming humanity. George was denied the constitutional right of due process just because of his color. The decision was formed way before the trial started. Everything was orchestrated to maintain white supremacy. From facts to witnesses, defense to appeals, everything was bent as per the majority’s will and after throwing appropriateness out of question. To my eyes, it seemed all wrong from the beginning. So let’s start from the start:
The most important step in any criminal act is the interrogation. It being done right helps in bringing a fair decision. But a biased interrogation might cost somebody his life. Without questioning the integrity of the judiciary, the interrogation carried on by the sheriff was against the constitution and human rights. George was not allowed to meet or talk to his parents and lawyer. He was denied his constitutional right of taking a proper legal recourse during interrogation. This was enough to make everyone believe that George’s confession was coercive.
The court never questioned the estate owner where the dead bodies of the little girl were found. George had no point going to the far off estate and dump the bodies there. Had he ever done that, it should have been proved rationally.
Weapon used in killing
The use of railroad trestle spike as the murder weapon should have been deliberated. How George got hold of it even when he was not a worker at any mill. Why he used that weapon and when did he secured it and from where. None of the questions were given much consideration which could have led to an unbiased verdict.
No cross-questioning of witnesses
Till the end, George’s family maintained that he was with his family at their home when the crime was supposed to have happened. But no witnesses were called during the trial to establish it as a fact, or maybe a lie. Constitutional right of proving himself not guilty was again denied to George.
When a case involving diverse communities needs judgment, the only way to an unbiased and just decision is to form a jury independent of any race or color. In George’s case, the jury was bound to be unjust as there was nil representation from the colored community. The inherent love for their people easily shadowed their sense of fair judgment. Had that been untrue, could the presence of a witness and a search officer, George Burke Sr., be justified as a jury member.
It was 24th April 1944 when both the girls were murdered. And George Stinney was executed on 16th June, 1944, just a little before three months. For such a grave crime, it seems a decision a little too hastened. Even the trial of George was over in just two hours and thirty minutes. To serve justice, the jury took only ten minutes to finally arrive at their decision. This unusually hastened trial and sentence raises a lot of suspicion about the credibility of the verdict. There was neither any recommendation for any mercy for the young boy.
No appeal or stays
After the verdict, the white lawyer of George did not file for an appeal. All he needed to do was write a single sentence appeal and try to save his client. George was a young child. If he was the real culprit, he surely had an immature and delinquent mind. He couldn’t have known the severity of the crime he committed. He could have been sent to child welfare or even to the correction center. If not anything else, his sentence could have been changed to life imprisonment just by an appeal or a stay order against such a cruel execution.
The point of contemplation here is not if George was guilty of the crime. Nor it questions how heinous the crime was. Rather it all zeroes down to how heinous a justice can be. The judiciary tried to mask its cruel act by calling it justice which they failed at apparently. After 70 years, in 2014, the 14th Judicial District Judge of South Carolina, Carmen Tevis Mullen reiterated the same. She did not recognize George as innocent or questioned the integrity of the court’s decision. Her main concern was the way George was denied his constitutional right to due process and how America failed at being just and fair to a delinquent mind.
Not only at the judicial level, America’s weak administration also got exposed with this case. The whole case was fastened to avoid a situation of what was a very common way of delivering justice on the spot: lynching. Had George, a young boy of color, not punished immediately, the white people would have served justice as per their will by lynching the poor boy. However, that had hardly been the scenario where the convicted happened to be a white juvenile. This is where the administration, i.e., the cops failed at implementing what Abraham Lincoln fought all his life for. As per statistics provided by Government Accounting Officer, the children of color are eighteen times more likely to be charged as adults for the crimes they committed as juveniles. This shows the biased laws America, a nation of immigrants, adheres to while dealing with young delinquent minds.