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Was Bias Behind Decision To Charge Transgender Teen?

If someone is charged with a crime in Neptune, it should not be because of who he or she is, but because of what he or she did. If the defendant did not do what he or she was charged with, he or she should be acquitted (although this is not always the case). If the defendant did commit a crime, he or she will be found guilty. Again, this should have nothing to do with an individual’s characteristics, but solely based on his or her guilt or innocence.

Unfortunately, sometimes prosecutors choose to file or withhold charges based on who a person is. Take, for example, an out-of-state prosecutor’s decision to file criminal charges against a transgender teenager for a schoolyard fight. Though it is within its discretion to do so, it seems odd that the district attorney’s office would only file charges against her and not against the three other girls involved in the fight.

The 16-year-old transgender teenager is facing battery charges on top of the punishment the school has already meted out. Though the teenager has a history of being bullied and apparently was fighting back for the first time, she is the only one who is being criminally prosecuted. The three others, none of whom are transgender, were only suspended from school.

While this fight did not happen in New Jersey, this incident highlights the likely bias that can affect who is prosecuted here. If someone is charged with a crime in Neptune, is it because of something other than his or her behavior?

Source: New York Daily News, “Transgender teen bullied at school faces criminal charges for fight which only suspended other girls,” Nina Golgowski, Jan. 9, 2014

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