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The Trump Arraignment For Business Fraud Was Hardly Typical

The arrest and arraignment of Donald Trump may have been an unprecedented moment with seismic implications for the political process. As a legal process, it was routine. On Tuesday, he became just another of the 31,000 people arraigned for felonies in dreary courtrooms across New York State each year, reports The Marshall Project. Constitutionally, those people are entitled to equal treatment. Practically, that’s not true. Usually there are handcuffs and mug shots, which Trump avoided. Law enforcement officials said he wasn’t considered a flight risk.. He couldn’t get around the fingerprinting. There’s no evidence that Trump spent time in an overcrowded holding cell, where defendants describe moldy sandwiches or pee-filled plastic cups. Trump was allowed to self-surrender and arrived in a multi-car motorcade, escorted by the Secret Service Others described the experience is like when you’re not a high-profile white defendant, arrested for a white collar crime, with access to top-flight lawyers, campaign donors, crowds of well-wishers and thousands of supporters. Some were indicted before their arrest, some after.

The picture they give — as mostly defendants of color arrested for violent crimes is of disorientation and hopelessness. One example: Naquasia Pollard was jailed in 2002 at the age of 19. She says, "I had to turn myself in with a paid lawyer, because I had a high-profile case. I was a kid, I was confused. People in my family had been incarcerated before, but I hadn’t experienced that. The detectives were all White. They were not kind to me; they prejudged me based on my crime. [Police] treat you like you’re automatically guilty as soon as you step foot in that precinct, until somebody says otherwise ... They treat you like you are a criminal. Like you’re just another Black person to them ... I was held at the precinct for over 24 hours, until I was picked out of a lineup. I wasn’t given anything to eat in that time. After the lineup, they handcuffed me, and I was taken on a bus to central booking in downtown Brooklyn. There, I was held in the cell alone, given moldy, stale sandwiches that I didn’t eat and slept on the floor. The next day I went in front of the judge, and then I went on a bus to [the Rikers Island jail]. I was at Rikers for 16 months." Pollard, who now runs an alternative to incarceration program, ended up serving 15 years in prison for robbery.


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