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2003-04-02

State of Texas to Overturn 39 Drug Convictions in Tulia: In 1999 One White Detective Arrested 15 Percent of the Town’s African-American Population in Drug Sweep

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Remember the story of Tulia Texas where in 1999, more than 15 percent of the town’s African-American population was rounded up in a massive drug sweep. In all, 46 people were arrested, 39 of them African-American. They were jailed on cocaine and crack charges.

One undercover detective, who was white, made all of the arrests and provided all of the evidence none of which could be corroborated. Still harsh sentences were handed down. One man was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Thirteen of the Tulia residents remain in prison despite international protests over the sweep. While a handful of cases had already been dismissed, it now looks like the remaining cases will be overturned.

Yesterday a Texas judge agreed with the prosecutors, and defense lawyers, that the courts should vacate 38 convictions arising from the drug sting, including those in which the defendants pleaded guilty.

  • Jeff Blackburn, Tulia Legal Defense Project.
  • Randy Credico, director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice.
  • Mattie White, mother of Kareem Abdul Jabar White, who was sentenced to 60 years for selling cocaine to an undercover agent. Three of her other children were also arrested.

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