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INJUSTICE

Injustice:  Court Jails Black Woman For Stealing $40k But Gives Probation To White Woman Who Stole $250k

Court Jails Black Woman For Stealing 40k But Gives Probation To White Woman Stole 250k

After the individual punishments given out to two women who committed identical offenses revealed a glaring gap in the state’s criminal justice system, there have been fresh efforts to develop a statewide sentencing database in Ohio.

According to Cleveland.com, a White woman accused of embezzling nearly $250,000 in public funds was sentenced to two years of probation on Monday, August 2, while a Black woman accused of stealing $40,000 from another public institution was sentenced to 18 months in prison the next day by the same court. Different judges condemned both women in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Debbie Bosworth, a White lady, is accused of stealing approximately $240,000 over the course of 20 years while working as a secretary at the Chagrin Falls village utilities and building departments. Bosworth, who was eventually indicted by a grand jury on 22 counts, made plans to return the stolen monies. When she was sentenced on Monday, she wrote a check for a $100,000 unpaid amount. Initially, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Ed Brydle wanted the presiding court to send Bosworth to prison. She was, however, given a probationary period.

Meanwhile, while working as a secretary and executive assistant at Maple Heights High School, Karla Hopkins was accused of taking $42,000 in dues and fees from students and instructors, according to Cleveland.com. Hopkins told the judge hearing over her case that she used her $20,000 pension money – after taxes – to pay off obligations she owed after being fired. Hopkins’ lawyer, Bret Jordan, claimed Hopkins had been dealing with mental health concerns and a gambling addiction throughout the time she was stealing the money. Hopkins, on the other hand, had sought treatment and was enrolled in a job placement program, according to Jordan. Hopkins had also managed to raise $5,000 in her efforts to reclaim the stolen funds, according to Jordan.

Hopkins was sentenced to 18 months in jail despite Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor James Gutierrez telling the presiding judge that the state preferred Hopkins to spend a prison sentence of not less than 9 months and not more than a year.

Following the two women’s sentences, a number of organizations and former judges claimed that this promotes the idea that persons of color or anyone who lack the wherewithal to defend themselves in court may suffer harsher punishments from courts. According to reports, Bosworth was facing probation or up to three years in prison, while Hopkins was facing probation or up to 60 years in prison. The minimum prison sentence for the latter was also nine months.

Ronald Adrine, a former Cleveland Municipal Court Judge, told Cleveland.com, “It’s sort of hard to figure out how you can wind up with results that are so varied for comparable kinds of activities.” “Cases like this highlight the need for the system to do a better job of examining data because there is a significant difference in the treatment of persons of color and white people. But it goes unnoticed because no one is paying attention.”

Only 10 of the 34 judges on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court have expressed an interest in joining the Ohio Sentencing Data Platform so far. Though courts ultimately utilize their discretion when deciding on punishments in cases, the program’s goal is to provide a database that judges may use to analyze comparable cases and average sentencing.

The president of the NAACP’s Cleveland branch, Danielle Sydnor, stated, “I think it confirms the lack of trust in the justice system.” “These kinds of things are how the system was intended, and they will continue to happen unless we get major reform.”

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