Jay Kimbrough, the newly-appointed special conservator of the TYC, ordered the immediate release of Cotton, saying through a spokesman that he had "no confidence in the system that was in place." Creola Cotton, Shaquanda's mother, will pick up her daughter Saturday morning. She was unable to reach the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood on Friday due to severe weather.
The Houston Chronicle tells of a Democratic lawmaker that was on the case.
The Chicago Tribune's senior correspondent Howard Witt, however, gets to take the credit for breaking this story and bringing it to an unprecedented level of attention, forcing Kimbrough to take quick action to avoid further controversy. Even here in Texas, his story was the first we had heard of this miscarriage of justice.
Rep. Harold Dutton, the Houston Democrat who chairs the House juvenile justice committee, said the newly appointed conservator of the embattled Texas Youth Commission told him Cotton was being released after 12 months in a Brownwood facility.
Dutton said she will be released Saturday to her mother, who he said was unable to pick up her daughter Friday because of bad weather.
"This is one of those cases that is the poster child of everything wrong with the criminal justice system," Dutton said.
Since the Tribune's first account of Shaquanda Cotton's case, her story has been circulated on more than 400 Internet blogs and featured in newspapers and radio and TV reports across the country. Two protests demanding her release were held in Paris and a third, to be led by Rev. Al Sharpton, was scheduled for Tuesday.Even the Lamar County District Attorney's office has had a change of heart regarding Cotton's case.
On Tuesday night, an anonymous reader left a comment on our blog about Cotton citing several "facts" about the case, including claims that if Shaquanda and her mother had only had better attitudes, Shaquanda may have received probation, and that Shaquanda's mother said she would refuse to comply with conditions of probation if Shaquanda were released to her custody (a claim the office has now backed away from). The comment ended with a link to a special site set up by the Lamar County DA that not only listed similar facts, but also aligned Creola Cotton with the New Black Panther Party and claimed that this was all an issue of "irresponsible parenting."
Now, the site is headed by the following statement: "We are happy for Miss Cotton and her family and wish her nothing but the best in the future. We sincerely hope she has learned her lesson and that we do not see her in the criminal justice system ever again."
From the Tribune: "Let her out of TYC," said Allan Hubbard, spokesman for Lamar County District Atty. Gary Young. "Hell, she's done a year for pushing a teacher. That's too long."