On or about April 7, 2010, in Elizabeth City, NC, six men were arrested for the brutal beating of Travis Howard. Heavily outnumbered in what he stated was an unprovoked attack at a nightclub, Mr. Howard sustained four skull fractures in the incident. In addition, he stated that he suffered a broken nose, concussion, and sprained neck. Five of his attackers were Special Forces soldiers who were in the area for training exercises in Camden County. The sixth man is listed as a resident from Jacksonville, FL, although the media reports are conflicting and uncertain as to his military status. All six were charged with felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury, but none were charged with attempted first degree murder. All six men were released without bond after promising in writing that they would be in attendance for their scheduled July 12, 2010 court event.
More recently, Gregory Boykin, a 29 year-old Wake County resident was arrested and charged with raping a 6 year-old girl. He faces charges of first degree rape of a child and three counts of felony sex offense with a child for offenses which allegedly took place in May 2009. Initially bail was set for Mr. Boykin in the amount of $500,000 with a condition that if he made bond he would be placed on electronic house arrest. However, on June 11, 2010, Wake District Court Judge Jennifer Knox reduced his bail to $300,000 and ruled that he would not be confined to house arrest if he bonded out of jail while awaiting trial. Currently, he remains in jail.
Parents of a five month-old boy were arrested in May 2010 and charged with child abuse. The infant sustained fractures of the skull, rib, and arm from an incident that, according to court documents, occurred several months earlier. Neither of the parents was charged with attempted first degree murder, and they were placed in custody under $100,000 bail.
Three cases cited above are for comparison with Crystal Mangum’s case. They illustrate the disparity and severity of the treatment to which Ms. Mangum has been subjected since her arrest on February 17, 2010.
Crystal Mangum did not inflict serious injury in her dispute with her ex-boyfriend on the night of February 17, 2010. According to police reports, she allegedly scratched him and threw punches at him. Yet, she was accused of attempted first degree murder (when no weapon was involved), and held under a $1 million bail. However five of the six member mob who attacked Travis Howard were highly skilled fighters from the Special Forces of the Army. Although they savagely beat Mr. Howard, they were released without bail.
Bail is a legal tool used to assure that a suspect who is released from custody prior to trial is in attendance at trial. Large sums of money or secured property are used as incentives to assure the suspect complies with the court calendar and mandates. In most cases, the higher the bond, the greater the flight risk of the suspect/defendant. In the case of Gregory Boykin, the judge or magistrate who set the initial bail of $500,000 made a condition similar to that imposed by Judge Claude Allen in Crystal Mangum’s case. The condition being that if bonded out, he/she would be released from jail, but be placed under monitored house arrest. In other words, after paying bond, they would still be in custody. Judge Jennifer Knox, when she reduced Mr. Boykin’s bail to $300,000, removed the condition that if he bonded out he would be under house arrest. In other words, she overruled the condition previously imposed. Judge Paul Ridgeway, when he reduced Ms. Mangum’s bail, had the opportunity to rescind the house arrest condition regarding bond, but he chose not to use it. So after Ms. Mangum’s $100,000 bond was satisfied, she was still in custody… under electronic monitored house arrest.
Undoubtedly, Judge Knox ruled properly when she removed the house arrest condition for pre-trial release of the defendant from custody. In this same respect, Judge Paul Ridgeway erred. The bail was placed to assure that Ms. Mangum would attend court dates if released from custody. She unexpectedly satisfied the bond requirements (thanks to the benevolent and generous actions of Mr. and Mrs. Hammond) and she should be free, instead of still being held in custody… albeit in a residential setting instead of the Durham County Detention Center. Judge Allen’s condition for bond for Ms. Mangum flies in the face of the true meaning of for having bail. His actions constitute a tiered level of confinement which is unevenly, unjustly, and often inappropriately applied. Ms. Mangum, for example, does not represent a flight risk. She’s a Durham resident, does not have the financial wherewithal to leave the state, country… much less, city of Durham. Her dedication as a mother is unquestioned, and therefore it is unlikely that she would take flight and leave her children behind. In addition, the crime for which she is alleged to have committed is bogus, and would not withstand a courtroom trial. The prosecution doesn’t even plan to go to trial because it knows it has no case against Ms. Mangum… their strategy is to strong-arm her into a plea deal on a so-called lesser charge in exchange for time served (strategy effectively used in the James Arthur Johnson case).
Although house arrest is not as oppressive as incarceration behind bars, it still represents a significant impediment to living a normal life. Prior to her arrest, Ms. Mangum was enrolled in graduate school pursuing a Masters degree, while being gainfully employed, and raising three children. Since being placed under house arrest, these activities have been put on hold, at taxpayer expense. Electronic monitoring, supervised leave to run errands, and associated paperwork come with a price tag that is being paid by the state.
It was an outrage for Magistrate B. Wakil to initially attach a $1 million bail with the arrest of Ms. Mangum, and it is a further outrage for her to be subjected to house arrest after she bonded out of the $100,000 bail. A comparison of cases will clearly show the discrepancies in the way punishment is selectively meted out by the North Carolina courts… and this is the biggest outrage of all.