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Carolyn Brown should be paroled from prison

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POSTED: February 4, 2009 11:56 a.m.
Last week, the NAACP held a rally in support of having former Liberty County tax commissioner Carolyn Brown paroled.
The former public servant has been serving a 30-year sentence since 2002 for racketeering and two counts of theft by conversion. The amount determined to have been stolen by Brown was in excess of $1.6 million.
In my opinion, Brown has served adequate time for a non-violent crime. But, if she is to be paroled early, it should only be after she has made arrangements to repay most of the money.
If that is done, via the selling of property, real estate or personal belongings, so be it. If she can’t raise the $1.6 million owed to the taxpayers, I’m sure that the 50 people who attended the NAACP rally, along with her family and her other supporters in the area, will be happy to chip in to raise the amount she is short.
I know many disagree and feel she ought to serve her entire sentence, but I believe releasing her early, under these conditions, would demonstrate forgiveness.
So, even though I agree with the NAACP’s goal of having Brown paroled, I do disagree with their method of attaining that goal.  
According to the Courier’s story Sunday, NAACP State Conference President Edward Dubose, who is from Columbus, said, “We believe that when the U.S. Department of Justice investigates the case, it will reflect there is truly a criminal spirit in Liberty County.”
Wow, if I still lived in Liberty County, I’d be offended by such a mean-spirited and hateful attack. But maybe I’m too sensitive and all of you who still do live here are more understanding.
Perhaps Dubose believes Brown didn’t get a fair trial, or that she didn’t know what she was doing was wrong, or even that she didn’t have opportunities to work her situation out. Maybe Dubose doesn’t know some of the facts.
Let me catch the outsider up on a few facts.
Brown was found guilty of writing illegal checks to herself from 1995 through 1999, and yet when she was warned repeatedly (starting in 1995) that what she was doing was wrong, and was urged to stop, she continued.
Also, Brown’s trial wasn’t even in this area. It was moved to Decatur with a jury selected from a pool of DeKalb County residents. I don’t even know who the tax commissioner is in DeKalb, or who the mayor of Decatur is, so I doubt those jurors knew who Brown was or, for that matter, much of anything else about the case when they heard the facts at trial.
Another detail from the case that Dubose must not be aware of is that Brown had a good chance to serve only two years in jail if she would have worked with prosecutors to resolve the issue.
According to reports, Brown’s attorneys Abda Lee Quillian and Michael Edwards tried to convince her to plead guilty and seek a sentence of two years in prison and 20 years on probation. Instead she dismissed them.
Folks, if people want to help Mrs. Brown fine, but don’t let her be made a “victim” in this debacle by a few outsiders who want to stir the pot to get their 15 minutes of fame. Instead local supporters need to work on a positive, possible and probable way to get her paroled.  
This issue divided Liberty County 10 years ago, and now has the potential to do it again.
 

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