After reading pieces in the Guardian and other news outlets, I find the assumption many news analysts, reporters, and commentators are making regarding Paul Manafort's sentence tone deaf. Yes, we all know money talks. And we also know that money has the ability to influence the legal outcomes within the U.S. justice system. But what people are not talking about, and should, is that his final sentence handed down by Judge TS Ellis, was rooted in racialized bias. Ok, let's just say, it had racist undertones. I know what many will say, "Race has nothing to do with the case." Well, it actually does. First, Paul Manafort has been essentially convicted of lying to federal officials, obstruction of justice, excessive felonies. And one can not forget about the morally reprehensible acts regarding collaborating with foreign governments bent on toppling the United States. He received 47 months. On the other hand, Judge TS Ellis, in 2009, was the presiding judge in the Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana case. Jefferson was indicted on 16 charges of corruption and later convicted. Judge Ellis did not give him 47 months. Jefferson was initially sentenced to 13 years for bribery. At the time, it was considered the longest sentence ever handed down to a member of Congress. This includes not only for the charge of bribery but any other crime. Looking through Ellis' convictions, a trail is visible. This is an old trail that is aligned to nothing but systemic racism.
Terence Fitzgerald Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work
Clinical Associate Professor focused on policy, family and children, social inequality, and institutional racism.