Judge in case accused of racial bias for originally sentencing girl to 7 years
BROWNWOOD, Texas -- Shaquanda Cotton, whose yearlong stay in a juvenile prison for pushing a hall monitor made her a symbol of alleged racial bias in the troubled Texas Youth Commission, was released Saturday, a state lawmaker said.
The 15-year-old was freed from the Ron Jackson Correctional Complex and picked up by her mother, said Rep. Harold Dutton, chairman of the House juvenile justice committee who lobbied state officials for Cotton's release.
Dutton said Cotton and her family headed back to Paris, her East Texas hometown near the Oklahoma border where civil rights activists have held two protests in as many weeks calling for her release.
"She had a whole cavalry" when picked up, said Dutton, a Houston Democrat.
Attempts to reach the Cotton family by phone weren't successful.
Cotton was sentenced on a felony count of shoving the teacher's aide, who is classified as a public servant, before the morning bell at Paris High School in 2005. She had no prior criminal convictions or arrests, and the hall monitor received no "documentable injury." Prosecutors in Cotton's case expressed surprise at Dutton's news, saying they were told Friday morning by the commission that the girl had not met the agency's standards for release.