Ramad Chatman, a 24-year-old man who was found not guilty by a jury of his peers but will serve seven years in prison just because. WTF? pic.twitter.com/9FYPkxIoH4— Crystal Johnson (@Crystal1Johnson) May 23, 2017
Once again, the United States justice system has failed a black man who has been found not guilty of charges brought against him.
Ramad Chatman, 24, had been serving a five-year probation sentence for a 2012 breaking and entering charge. While he was following protocol and abiding by his probation's terms, he still ended up in jail, the Atlanta Black Star reports. And the way it all went down was shady — to say the least.
In 2014, Chatman was named as an armed robbery suspect by a shopkeeper who saw his photo on Facebook. Instead of going after the suspect, officers waited for Chatman to hear the news on his own.
Chatman, who had been able to maintain gainful employment throughout the years of probation, did not necessarily fit the bill. Why would he be shoplifting if he had paid his restitution, finished his community service, and found a job?
Still, Chatman learned in 2015 that he had been accused of the robbery in 2015. Knowing he wasn't guilty, he maintained his innocence even as he turned himself in.
After being arrested, Chatman tried to enter an “Alford plea,”, hoping his armed robbery charges would be dropped if he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
By early 2016, Judge Jack Niedrach decided to overlook Chatman's good behavior and plea offer, putting him before court to be judged by a jury of his peers. He was eventually found not guilty, mainly because the store clerk who had accused him of being the suspect kept changing her story.
Without enough evidence, the jury insisted Chatman was innocent. That wasn't good enough to Niedrach.
Instead of letting the man go, he revoked his probation sentence in 2016, saying Chatman had violated his terms with the alleged robbery. Adding five years to his original sentence, Chatman was then ordered to go back to his cell.
If his probation hadn't been revoked after he was found not guilty, he would have been free from abiding by his probation term by July. Now, he's stuck in a cell until 2022.
If you don't think institutionalized racism is real look up the Ramad Chatman case and get back to me— Maggie (@swaggymaggie_) May 23, 2017
Janice Chatman says that her grandson was treated unfairly.
“What Judge Niedrach has done to my grandson is an injustice,” she told reporters. “When my grandson was proven not guilty, he should’ve been let out.”
Unfortunately, such a sensible comment seems unreasonable to a member of the U.S. justice system. As a result, an innocent man needs to waste another five years of his life in jail — even after he did everything he should have to meet his probation's conditions.
Now that's what we call injustice.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters