The Crumbleys Were Found Guilty…Black and Brown People Hardest Hit

James Crumbley
James Crumbley courtesy

“The principle being established here is that if a parent is deemed sufficiently neglectful and their child engages in an act of violence, we have to be thinking about the parent’s criminal liability for seeing signs and not acting on them,” says Evan Bernick, assistant professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law. “What I see in the Crumbley case is the structure of something that could very easily be applied in a way that criminalizes Black parents and kids.”

According to an analysis by the Washington Post, mass shooters are more likely to be white and male. Yet, Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children to die by guns. They are more likely to live in neighborhoods with the social and economic pressures that generate gun violence. Research suggests that authorities tend to assume that Black children are older and more violent than they actually are and that their parents more negligent and irresponsible than white parents. And these stereotypes already fuel rampant discrimination in the criminal legal system. This combination of factors, along with the precedent set by the Crumbley verdicts, makes it even more likely that prosecutors will seek to expand their legal tools for incarcerating Black parents.

Mass shootings are almost ubiquitous at this point. With that rage-inducing reality, it’s easy to celebrate anything that feels like a step in the right direction. But the trouble is that while prosecuting extreme cases like that of Crumbley parents might make us feel better, it can also repave the road to mass incarceration, which history has shown does not make us safer or end cycles of violence.  

“These particular unsympathetic people are how the system gets you,” Bernick told me. “That’s how it justifies its application and severity to cases that look nothing like this and you’re not necessarily going to be watching them.”

— Nia T. Evans in The Crumbleys Have Been Convicted. Black Parents Will Likely Pay a Price, Too.

4 Responses

  1. Given the vengeful way our justice court systems work, and the jaundiced, even villainous reporting by mainstream media, it is difficult to understand what really happened here. The sentences are clearly vengeful. Just ask Derek Chauvin.

  2. I’ve read a few different takes online about the parent’s trials.

    1) Every one seems to completely absolve the school of all responsibility. The school counselor wanted the kid gone. Parent’s wouldn’t take him. With the parents there, the school could have gone through the kid’s backpack, locker, whatnot. School didn’t. Instead, the school just sent the kid back to class like, “Oh well, best he get back to solving math problems…”

    2) Not going to debate the fact that letting mentally unstable people out in public, let alone get access to firearms, is not really smart. But to play the “What if…” game:
    What if the kid took some knives from his home’s kitchen, kills 2 & cuts up a few more? Parent’s still responsible for not locking the knives up?
    Say the kid got his driver’s license. Parent’s buy him an older, used automobile. He drives to school and mows down kids getting off a bus. Parent’s responsible for that?

    Bottom line: when one lets the deranged/mentally unstable out in public, don’t be surprised if they do deranged/mentally unstable things.

  3. The professor seems to say the sentence is OK, but the same standards should not be applied to blacks and Hispanics.
    Affirmative Action for criminals and their negligent parents?

  4. “The Crumbleys Were Found Guilty…Black and Brown People Hardest Hit”

    So, two whites go to jail, but the victims are blacks and Hispanics??

    You wrote nonsense to give your article a Leftist slant!

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