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TYRONE BROWN #554317 - Jailed For A Joint

As in every city in America, the story of Dallas County justice has it's own tales about the countless lives of men, women and children shattered and destroyed as a result of the failed policies and draconian sentences being imposed by courts across America under the War On Drugs banner.

At 17 years old, Tyrone Brown was on probation for a $2.00 robbery. He was like most young black teenagers who statistics tell us will find themselves tied to the court system in one way or another before their 18th birthday(i.e. in jail, prison, on house arrest, parole, or probation).After failing a drug test, Dallas County District Judge Keith Dean felt it acceptable to sentence Tyrone to "life" in prison.

Were it not for Tyrone's family, friends and the support of organizations like the November Coalition and a news reporter named Brooks Egerton, Tyrone would still be waking up each morning inside a Texas prison. The crime and sentence for which Tyrone was sentenced to life illustrates many things about the drug war and the lack of justice to be expected in Dallas County courts.

Tyrone Brown's story began on a February night in 1990. A child-abuse victim and high school dropout from Oak Cliff, he was roaming the upper Greenville Avenue area with another 17-year-old.

...According to police and court records, Mr. Brown's friend pointed a pistol at Mr. Hathaway and demanded money...Mr. Hathaway handed his wallet to Mr. Brown, who removed the cash -- two $1 bills. The victim asked for his wallet back and got it. The men parted ways.

Mr. Hathaway called police, who quickly caught the two robbers nearby and returned his money.

There was no trial. Judge Dean soon accepted guilty pleas from both teens and [sentenced them to] 10 years of deferred-adjudication probation...

...Mr. Brown tested positive for marijuana in May 1990, a month after starting probation...

At a hearing in early June, Mr. Brown's court-appointed lawyer asked Judge Dean to send the youth to boot camp...

The judge...did not address that proposal. Judge Dean simply reminded the teen that prosecutors initially recommended a five-year prison sentence instead of probation, "and I told you ... that you wouldn't see anything like that five years if you got in more trouble." Then he pronounced the life sentence and added, "Good luck, Mr. Brown."

Now an Ex-Prisoner of the Drug War

Gov. Perry Pardons Man's Life Sentence For Pot
The Dallas Morning News

"Gov. Rick Perry decided Friday to free Tyrone Brown, a Dallas man sentenced to life in prison 17 years ago after smoking marijuana while on probation." Contact the writer at:

Tyrone Brown on November Coalition

Pew Report Finds
More than One in 100 Adults are Behind Bars

Drug War 101: Another American
War Without An Ending

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