There are one set of laws for the rich and famous, and one set of laws for the poor and anonymous. That is particularly true in Atlantic County, New Jersey. Ray Rice is a famous football player. Rice was not prosecuted after he knocked his fiancée unconscious in an Atlantic City casino earlier this year. Instead, Rice received a two game suspension from the NFL.
Contrast his treatment with how the legal system treated Shaneen Allen. Allen was accused of making an illegal lane change as she drove through New Jersey. She faces up to ten years in state prison because she carried a firearm she legally owned in Pennsylvania. Rice is a single mom who works two jobs. She was robbed twice before she bought a gun. She bought it legally. She took firearms safety training classes in Philadelphia. She earned her concealed carry license.
After their arrest, both Rice and Allen qualified for a diversion program for first time offenders. Rice would take classes on domestic violence and have a clean record if he stayed out of trouble. Maybe Allen would take classes on New Jersey’s crazy concealed carry laws. Though both qualified, the prosecuting attorney accepted Rice’s diversion but rejected Allen’s diversion. The prosecutor allowed a violent multi-millionaire to clear his record but prosecuted a single mom working two jobs. They kept Shaneen Allen in jail for 46 days until she could make bail. Because they kept her in jail, she nearly lost her jobs, her home and her children. Ray Rice received a two game suspension from the NFL.
I can’t call this celebrity justice. It is celebrity law because there is no justice in New Jersey.
It gets crazier. There is an ongoing amnesty in New Jersey for people to turn in their handguns without question. That means Shaneen Allen should have been able to surrender her handgun and avoid prosecution entirely. That treatment only applies if the prosecutor in Atlantic County cared to follow the law and seek a shred of justice. He doesn’t. The prosecutor only cares to make a name for himself. Putting a rich football star in jail would make the prosecutor look like an idiot on the sports pages. It is also bad business to prosecute millionaires who visit the New Jersey Casinos.. even if they beat people unconscious. Money talks in the New Jersey casinos.. and in the courtroom.
I understand the arrest in the Rice case because we have an actual victim. We know Rice physically assaulted someone, someone who had not attacked him first and someone who was both physically smaller and weaker than he was. There is no victim in the Shaneen Allen case.. except Shaneen. The prosecutor is nothing more than a grandstanding politician trying to pad his conviction numbers as he prosecutes Shaneen Allen. We used to expect this sort of corrupt behavior from abusive southern sheriffs back in the 1960s. We still expect to find this sort of political corruption in third-world countries … third-world countries like New Jersey today.
Unfortunately, Allen isn’t the plaintiff the women’s movement wants. The women’s movement needs money from rich women. Allen isn’t a celebrity movie star and her case won’t generate those donations. A second strike against Allen is that she was trying to protect herself and her family with a firearm. That isn’t the approved posture now supported by the black civil rights establishment. Being a victim is the approved remedy. Both groups should help her. Neither will.
Shaneen has a legal defense fund here.