Things That Matter

A Twenty-One Year Old Man Overslept On His First Day Of Jury Duty And Now He’s Being Sentenced To Jail And Has A Record

These days, it doesn’t take much poking around to know that our country’s judicial system is problematic, troublesome and inherently racist. A few months ago, when news broke out about the college admissions scandals, those following the news knew well that the wealthy parents who took part in the scam would walk away essentially scot-free. They weren’t wrong. 

Earlier last month, on September 13th, actress Felicity Huffman, one of the most recognizable names caught up in the admissions scandal, was sentenced to just 14 days in federal prison for her involvement in a case that saw her charged for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman’s case highlighted questions of inequity in our judicial system. Many were quick to point out that Huffman, like the other three dozen parents involved, were from extreme wealth and would undoubtedly be treated differently from poor or nonwhite defendants accused of admission and education fraud. For severe charges that were lobbed at white-collar crime convicts like former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and took education opportunities away from students far less privileged than her own kids, Huffman received 14 days in jail. 

Twenty-one-year-old Deandre Somerville should have been so lucky. 

The Florida man from West Palm Beach was sentenced to 10 days in jail this past week after a judge found him in criminal contempt of court after he overslept and missed the start of a trial he had been selected to serve jury duty for. At the time, Somerville looked up the repercussions online and according to NBC News said that he “didn’t really see too much there. … [It looked like] nobody actually ever really went to jail for it.”  Because of this, he did not notify the court or its jury office.

Deandre Somerville was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation and 150 hours of community service for failing to show up for jury duty.

The 21-year-old was also told to write a letter of apology to the court and pay $223 to cover court costs. Speaking about his own sentence, Somerville told NBC that he felt as if he “didn’t need any rehabilitation… I just made a mistake.”

According to Somerville, his 10 days in jail were “traumatic.” Sommerville who recently moved in with his grandparents to help care for them had never been arrested before now has a criminal record for contempt and spent his 10 days in jail amongst hardened criminals and in fear. 

The judge who gave Somerville his sentencing stemmed from his duty to represent his Black community.

Speaking at Somerville’s formal apology in court, Judge John Kastrenakes, of Fort Lauderdale Florida, said that he wanted to “make an example” out of Somerville to ensure more people do not fail to show up to jury duty. “Mr. Somerville was the only African American on our jury and represented a very important cross-section of our community.”

But people of color have long been used to “make an example,” when privileged nonpeople of color have caused greater harm and damage and gotten off easy. 

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was quick to underline this point in a recent tweet shared with her profile. 

“Mass incarceration is our American reality. It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery. To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country,” she wrote in a retweet of a post shared by comedian Chelsea Handler who also lambasted the judge for his decision. 

AOC’s retweet went onto highlight in a thread the flaws of our judicial system citing a recent experience she had meeting a woman who had been sent to Rikers as a teen.” Yesterday morning I spoke with a woman who was thrown in Rikers as a teenager. Put in solitary confinement for MONTHS, aka torture. Force-fed pills. The conditions were so bad, she too had drank out of toilets. A cage is a cage is a cage. And humans don’t belong in them,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

The young Congresswoman’s thread highlights the severe punishments people of color have and continued to endure at the cost of our country’s broken prison and judicial system. Her message is a reminder that the actual point of the prison system is to rehabilitate, not punish those who are incarcerated and sent to jail or prison. 

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Faced Close Encounter And Feared For Her Life

Things That Matter

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Faced Close Encounter And Feared For Her Life

aoc / Instagram

We are getting a better look into what happened at the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters stormed the building. There have been stories of politicians with military history saving lives and horrific revelations. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently let the world know that she had a moment when she feared for her life.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is speaking out after the violent day at the Capitol building.

In an hour-long Instagram Live video, Rep. AOC spoke frankly about what happened while far-right Trump supporters stormed the building. The unruly mob turned a usually ceremonious and boring function of Congress, certifying the electoral votes, into one of the darkest days for our democracy. For Rep. AOC, it was almost the end of her life.

“As for myself, I had a pretty traumatizing event happen to me. I do not know if I can even disclose the full details of that event due to security concerns,” she said in her Instagram Live while recounting the insurrection of Jan. 6. “I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die and you have all of those thoughts where, you know, at the end of your life, and all of these thoughts come rushing to you. That’s what happened to a lot of us on Wednesday. I did not think, I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive. Not just in a general sense but also in a very, very specific sense.”

Rep. AOC also used her Instagram Live to talk about the traitorous acts she witnessed.

At the beginning of the video, Rep. AOC highlights the Republicans who helped create the dangerous insurrection. She did not hold back on naming some of the people she holds responsible for inciting the mob through rhetoric and political ambition.

“Wednesday, as you know, the president, frankly assisted by members of Congress, incited an attack on the United States Capitol,” Rep. AOC says in the video. “This is known as an act of insurrection, an act of sedition. Frankly, he is a traitor to our country, a traitor to the United States and I don’t think there’s another way you can put it. I don’t think there’s another way to put, there’s no other way to put it.”

She continued adding: “If you are Senator Ted Cruz or Senator Josh Hawley, and frankly if you are many members of Congress, you cast that vote not out of genuine belief, but you cast it out of political ambition. That is what they did. They incited an attack on the Capitol and many many many members of Congress were almost murdered. Many Congressional staffers were almost killed. Many children, children of members of Congress, were there. Children.”

Rep. AOC is not the only member of Congress sounding the alarm about colleagues making this happen.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., came forward to tell people about how she saw Republican members of Congress allegedly working with the rioters.

“We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results,” Rep. Sherrill said during a live webcast Tuesday. “And so not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn’t have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff reported her own terrifying moment.

Sarah Groh told Boston Globe that she and her husband were in Rep. Pressley’s office and barricaded the door with furniture. That was when she tried to use the panic buttons for help, which she had done before. Despite never changing offices, Groh said that all of the panic buttons were gone.

READ: Ted Cruz Among Senators Facing Backlash And Calls To Resign After Mob Breaches US Capitol

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‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Things That Matter

‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Beeldbewerking/ Getty

The world is plagued with some crazy and unfair laws, no doubt about it. But what about the things that exist and legal? Why are, for instance, spam callers allowed to trick you by calling from similar numbers to yours? Or, why is it impossible to criminally convict your roommate from keeping you up all night or dipping into your ice-cream and lie about it?

Users on Reddit are asking similar questions and the answers are pretty hilarious but also intriguing.

“I’m just gonna have to say little girl’s beauty pageants. It just doesnt sit right with me. And not only because of the fact it’s creepy, but I feel like it’s stressful on the kid and on their body image.” –kitty-cult

“College book prices and practices. Change a few words in a math book, that’ll be another $100 please. Oh you realized that you can use the book from 10 years ago and succeed? Actually we require you get the new book. Oh you realized you can get the book cheaper from a friend? Actually we’re doing online books now and you need the personalized code. We change it every year even though there have been no breakthroughs in this subject! Knowing the college struggle i have no fucking clue how this is allowed to exist. It should literally be illegal.” –WitlessMean

“Puppy mills.” –thechronicwinter

“Sending letters to home owners labeled ‘IMPORTANT MORTGAGE / FINANCIAL INFO’ or ‘LAST WARNING / NOTICE’ and having the inside look exactly like a bill, letterhead and little box in the corner with figures inside… all to then say ‘refinance with us’ or ‘don’t miss this opportunity for etc etc’ Makes me heart skip every time thinking I’ve forgotten some critical bill until I open it.”- IDUU

“The fact car radio commercials are allowed to have police sirens or car crashes in them as a way to Get your attention.”- jagfanjosh3252

“The size of the ‘x’ button on pop-up ads.” –_Denes_

“Socks: ‘Fits size 6-12.'” –klitorisaurus

“Spice/K2/Synthetic Weed. This may have changed in the last few years but I found it embarrassing that our country locks up thousands for actual marijuana but allowed that shit to be sold at every gas station and liquor store knowing damn good and well that it was hurting and killing people.”-m0ndayisb0ng0day

“You can look up where any one lives because it’s public record. But can we please not have entire websites with data bases full of every person in the country?? I mean think about people who get denied restraining orders and try to move away from their abuser. Six months later and their abuser can just look up their name and find them all over again. This could be detrimental for spouse abuse victims, stalking victims, etc. something should be done about them. It’s terrifying.” –21DrunkPilots

“Lying through your teeth on “news” shows because you claim you’re actually “entertainment”. Even while it has “news” in the title of the station. Being able to lie through your teeth on an opinion show just bc it’s an opinion show. Opinions should be opinions about facts. Opinion should not be an excuse for slander or making knowingly false statements in the media.” –jseego

“No-knock warrants. We’ve seen time and time again where Law Enforcement has the wrong address and some innocent person ends up dead because of a logistical mistake.” –Mr-and-Mrs

“Impossibly hard to cancel subscriptions.” –ungFu-omega-warrior

“Putting unrelated crap into bills to sneak it into law. I know they’re supposed to follow some kind rules related to germaneness, but they clearly don’t, and clearly need actual laws with actual punishments for pulling this crap.” –Gr1pp717

“Multi level Marketing.” –whyykai

“Civil Asset Seizure by Police – No Crimes Needed!”- vegetarianrobots

“The troubled teen industry. Parents pay a company to kidnap kids while they’re sleeping and send them off to ‘therapeutic’ boarding schools where they are abused in every conceivable way.”- MyDongIsAWiFiHotspot

“Sweatshop labor outsourced by tech and Fortune 500 companies. It’s essentially contemporary slavery we collectively allow.”- crumpledForeskin

“Being penalized for calling out sick from work. Edit. Even while the whole world is trying to survive this pandemic, we’re still dealing with this major issue by employers. I work in health care, and I feel like I get shamed by my managers and coworkers when you call out. Especially when you work night shift.” –pongomer

“I (f) bought a car recently. During the process of negotiation I decided I wanted to do more research and the salesman refused to give me the keys to MY car so I could leave. Literally saw me looking for my keys and withheld them while repeatedly saying, ‘But what could I do to get you into this car today?’ I finally demanded my keys but bought the car anyway (they met my asking price and got me the financing I wanted) but I’m SO mad at myself for not making a scene. For allowing that man to hold me hostage and not being outraged. I don’t understand why I didn’t humiliate him and instead meekly just sat and took it. I called the manager the next day. But still. So disappointed in myself…” – UncomonShaman

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