Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tulia documentary nominated for Emmy

Following news that the "Tulia law" requiring corroboration for informants in undercover drug stings is still working as intended to prevent drug convictions without adequate evidence, I'm pleased to learn from Rev. Alan Bean at Friends of Justice (a group founded in 1999 to fight the Tulia raids) that the documentary film "Tulia, Texas" has been nominated for an Emmy. He writes:
Kelly Whalen and Cassandra Herrman invested years of their lives making “Tulia, Texas” and their dedication is being recognized.  The piece they created for the PBS program Independent Lens was recently nominated for an Emmy.

According to the folks at Independent Lens, “TULIA, TEXAS shows how America’s war on drugs and its over-zealous law enforcement, combined with racial divisions, have exposed deep-seated animosities and even starker injustices.”

But Whalen and Herrman dealt with a painful subject in a compassionate and understated way.   The Independent Lens website now features a “Tulia talks back” section with comments from folks on both sides of the drug sting controversy.  The program comes in for some criticism from those who didn’t like seeing their community branded as uniquely racist; but the comments are generally appreciative, even laudatory.

Page Lacey Heisser, a woman who grew up in Tulia, left this comment.  “One of the strengths of the film is its plain explanation of how rural economics, politics and small town justice converge to influence decent citizens of a town towards making such bad decisions. I think Tulia—like other small towns—is made up of women and men who are focused on their families, their jobs, local sports, church events and keeping their heads above water.”

Page wishes “Tulia, Texas” was a mandatory part of the school curriculum in her home town.
I was pleased to meet and dine with Whalen and Herrman after their film premiered at SXSW, and I join Alan in wishing them luck on their Emmy quest. It's amazing how reverberations from that episode more than a decade later continue to influence drug policy debates and, increasingly, American culture.


Hook Em Horns said...

I would suggest that Tulia is the tip of the ice-berg here in "stupid on crime" Texas! Let me also suggest that there is a very real possibility that 40 DNA exonerations would not begin to stack up against people framed and in prison on dope charges. Just can you trust a system like the one that exists in this state?

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Hookem! They're likely all innocent! If you don't believe it, just ask them!

Hook Em Horns said...

7/24/2010 11:34:00 AM
Typical dumb-ass Anonymous response common on here which is HOW AND WHY we lead the nation in DNA exonerations and yesterday's case out of Houston which freed Allen Porter, who served 19 years in a Texas prison for a rape he NEVER COMMITTED. While it is ignorant to say "they" are all innocent, it is just as ignorant to assume there are not innocent people locked up in light of THE FACTS which Anonymous posters seem to ignore!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

FWIW, most counts of innocent people exonerated are WAY undercounted because they don't include drug war exonerees. In Texas there have been 40+ DNA exonerees, but add in cases like Tulia, Hearne and the Dallas sheetrock scandal and the numbers go up pretty quickly.

They're not all innocent, 11:34, but perhaps a lot more than you're giving credit for.

Anonymous said...

The FACTS are that at any point in time there are approximately 150,000 inmates incarcerated in the Texas prison system. Over 90% of them pled guilty. On the other hand, there have been less than 40 "exonerations." That's likely less than one tenth of one percent of the inmates incarcerated in a single year. And yet to hear some of the idiots who frequently post on this blog, you'd think the sky was falling and injustice ran rampant. Chill out, Hookem--or get some counseling! The system in Texas works fine. Is it perfect, no. But it's by far the best in the world!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

A quarter of the DNA exonerees pled guilty, 12:40. The fact that the system is a plea mill doesn't mean it doesn't convict innocent people.

Again, the 40 exonerations (that you inexplicably put in quote marks - do you have evidence some are false?) are just the DNA cases. When you include drug cases, the number spikes up really fast. See here for the actual data and best estimates on how many innocents are locked up in prison, for anyone who cares.

Hook Em Horns said...

Plea bargaining hardly makes one guilty! There are many reasons why otherwise innocent people plead guilty but I would never expect an idiot to understand.

When faced with the prospect of 5-99 on a first degree felony dope charge, it might be appealing to take the 5 as opposed to risking the 99. Again, I would never expect an idiot with no, limited or biased views of how criminal courts really work in Texas to understand.

It's a bitter pill to swallow, I agree, that your belief system, that Texas system is somehow fabulous, is flawed. IT IS FLAWED and in a way that calls thousands of convictions into question.

Le Poer said...

Well if it is so flawed take it to the "ballot box" and call your "elected representatives" - have you heard that before? And also how about Cornyn for Texas and Barton too. Texas is still run by the Red Republicans!

Le Poer said...

Oh- by the way; I forgot one more of "our elected representatives" RICK PERRY -Anybody up for having another CIVIL WAR and "seceding" from the UNION or the United States of America - down here in Texas we might just do that!

Atticus said...

Back to the topic at hand. The Tulia documentary is well done and very even handed. It does as good a job as possible of condensing 4.5 years of events into 57 minutes on film. If you want more details, try Nate Blakeslee's book on Tulia, an interesting read...

Susan Fenner said...

Hurray! This is excellent news! Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of the Tulia documentary.

SuzanneW said...

To anonymous-
If the US law enforcement system is the best in the world, what country comes in second and why?

True Texan said...

Odd that Cassandra Herrman should travel all the way to Texas to find racism. In her own hometown of San Francisco:

"In the most expensive city in the world, Blacks’ per capita income is less than half – only 44 percent – that of whites. No wonder 35,000 Black San Franciscans have been pushed out of the city since 1990.

Here in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco’s last Black homeland, where all signs point to a concerted City Hall policy to push out all Black people and where, to that end, police are ordered to “saturate” our neighborhood while their helicopters hang heavy every day over our heads and, when we don’t seem scared enough, they terrorize us with a tank and call in the snipers to shoot our children in the back, we know we’re more likely to get arrested here than just about anyplace else on earth.

And now the report tells us exactly how likely: The felony arrest rate for Black San Franciscans – the proportion of us who are arrested and accused of a felony – is 13.95 percent! That compares with a felony arrest rate for Asians of .62 percent, Latinos of 2.85 percent and whites of 2 percent."

Don't know of any tanks or helicopters in Tulia. Could it just be that a small town in Texas is a lot easier to criticize than a "progressive" city in California? I can't think of any Texas counterpart to the Watts riots. Maybe these young ladies should stay closer to home.

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