The Scottsboro Boys

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“The Scottsboro boys and the Court’s Decision in Powell v. Alabama”

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” – From the sixth amendment. On March 31, 1931, the “Scottsboro boys” were indicted and arraigned on the same day. Eight out of nine African American boys between the ages of 13 and 21 years old were convicted of raping two white females. Until the morning of their trial, no lawyer was assigned to represent any of the following defendants. In Alabama on March 25, 1931, a group of African American boys were riding in an open gondola car along with another group that was aboard which consisted of several white males and two white females. During the passage, a fight between the two groups broke out that involved six of the white individuals to be thrown from the freight train. When the train pulled into the station a group of police officers were waiting to remove the black individuals from the train. The two white women aboard the train had then claimed that a variety of the black men had raped them. These nine young men became known as the Scottsboro boys while they were locked in a local jail in Alabama. The youngest of the nine boys who was 13 years of age was not indicted because he was too young. The Scottsboro boys were divided into separate groups and put on individual trials that lasted only a day. As the day of the trials continued, the two women Victoria Price and Ruby Bates (who turned out to be alleged prostitutes) were medically examined. When the medical evidence came back, neither of the two women was raped by these eight boys. The eight boys that remained were convicted of rape. The punishment was left up to the jury in which they had the choice of 10 years in jail or death. For all eight of the Scottsboro boys the jury chose death. The courts approved this sentence made by the jury and ended all following trials for the defendants. The rape convictions were then...
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