By this afternoon his spirits rebounded to the point that I can safely say that if James’ life is to end, it will not be by his own hand.
When he is transferred from the jail to prison, James’ life will be in danger. It is well known that inmates express particular revulsion and violence towards other inmates labeled as sex offenders against children. James is particularly small and vulnerable. He will be at mortal risk.
Yet even if James is placed in a “CMU” or “Close Management Unit” (solitary confinement—for his protection, of course), he will probably be driven to the edge of insanity in the course of time. Studies show solitary will make even a normal person crazy.
There doesn’t seem to be any immediate source of comfort or remedy available to us within the court or correction systems.
Not that people are just idly standing by…
Yesterday just minutes after I learned of the verdict, a former member of James’ family called (she had divorced out of the family and is glad to be free of its dysfunction). She said from her own knowledge of him, that it is not in James’ nature to have committed this crime. She called to see what she can do to help.
First thing this morning, I awoke to a message that we had received a $1,000 donation for James’ appeal. Believe me, this lifted my spirits. I had been thinking all night about the effort involved in raising enough money to mount an appeal. It will be costly. This gift affirmed that it will be accomplished.
Later today a woman also called me asking how she can help. She is the wife of a public official in Memphis and was in the courtroom for part of the trial.
“All my instincts tell me that boy is innocent,” she said. She told me about her interpretation of the 911 call. She said James and Neily Shea could be heard in the background. They were just as loud on the tape as the neighbor who was calling. “I’m a mother and those kids were crying together as James held his sister in his arms. If he had done this to Neily Shea, she would have been fighting him, yelling ‘no’, and pushing him away like she pushed away the nurses at the hospital. She was safe again in James’ arms.”
“You know, people are thoroughly fed up. I have people commenting on the blog who want to burn down the courthouses,” I said.
“They do?” she asked in alarm.
“Figure of speech, of course,” I said. I told her people are losing faith in a system that does this kind of thing to our own kids. I told her that if anything happens to James, it will rain fire on Memphis from all over the world… again, a figure of speech.
I could tell that she believed me. I suspect she felt Memphis would deserve it if it happened.
“All we want is a fair trial where the whole truth is told,” I continued.
“We want the full story of James’ home life known, that it was a classic Cinderella tale in which Jefferson Sanders’ kids got everything shiny and new and James was dressed in rags,” I said. “A woman who called yesterday told me about taking James to church with them, and that he was embarrassed because his shirt had a big hole in it. If he got anything new, Jefferson took it away and destroyed it.”
“We want people on a jury to know that Jefferson Sanders was and is a vicious predator and abuser.” When Monica lost a baby in 2004 Sanders said, “It should have been James.” James has never had unconditional love in his whole life, even from his mother.
“We want a jury to learn about the full extent of abuse and neglect to which James was subjected—not so people will feel sorry for the kid, but so they can see the extent to which he has learned from hardship and benefited from it,” I said.
“We want a jury to hear the full story about the Scheulin brothers and how their history of assaults and sexual abuse made them a perfect team to commit this crime.” I explained that I hadn’t known until Thursday’s testimony by Dr. Lakin that two people had to have committed this crime, not one. So why weren’t the Scheulin brothers required to be in court?! Who is protecting them? Why?
It is almost as if this jury was asked to view James’ world through a pin hole. It wasn’t a fair trial. We have many troubling questions including, “Is it legal for a jury of eleven people to have rendered a verdict?” and “If the judge said the state failed to meet its burden of proof on two counts out of four, why was James convicted on four counts?” One caller who went to lengths to preserve anonymity urged us to investigate alleged jury misconduct.
Quite a few people have contacted me since Friday. And most of them have asked, “What can I do?”
Another caller said she had a lengthy conversation with an aide to the mayor of Shelby County. If there’s nothing the courts and prisons can do to help James now, she said, who knows what could happen for him in the short term if we made Justice for James a political issue?
She urged me to share this link with you so you can tell Mayor Mark Luttrell of Shelby County what you think about what’s happening to James. I think it’s a damned good idea. We need to demonstrate to Mayor Luttrell that the whole world is judging his jurisdiction’s brand of justice.
This is all about politics now.
Here’s the guy to write to:Steve Shular Public Affairs Officer Shelby County Mayor’s Office Steve.Shular@shelbycountytn.gov
[Memo Line: RE: James Paul Prindle – DOB 02/23/1995 – DOCKET 110218010142158 ]
If we can get enough people to write over the weekend, maybe we can get Mayor Luttrell to give Judge Carter a phone call before court convenes again on Monday. Judge Carter, too, needs to be put on notice that the world is watching.
All of us have a choice about whether these next few months will sink us or buoy us, whether James will be seen as a pathetic victim or a young man of courage and strength.
Stand up and speak out. Let Mayor Luttrell know that this is one case that will not be swept under the rug. James is not a throw-away child, no matter what the system does to him. Thousands of people all over the world have taken him into their hearts. Help us send the message that James—and what Memphis does to him—will not be overlooked and will never be forgotten.
Please write now.
Groove of the Day
(I’ve been listening to this piece off and on all day. It’s calmed me and filled me with hope.)