an ordinary crime
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photo of a gunjoin the discussion: What are your thoughts on the Terence Garner case and what it says about America's criminal justice system?

notes on viewers' response to the terence garner story


Dear FRONTLINE,

I could not turn off my television and forget about Terence Garner. Thank you Frontline for sharing his story and how we can help make this wrong a right.

Pull your head out America!

My thoughts and prayers are with you Terence.

Mark Janeway
salt lake city, utah


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a 40+ African-American male, this story is exactly why I am still ambivalent about producing a child. The difference in "justice" between a white child and a black child is truly disgusting. Has anyone heard the white children who shoot up schools described as "animals, predators, etc."???

Little Johnny has a "future" but Little Leroy "must" go to jail.

I acknowledge that gangs are a problem in the black community, but no more so than any other ethnic community. ...The problem is mostly that when young black men go to trial, they aren't judged by a jury of their peers; they are judged mostly by white juries who come in with long-standing stereotypes.

Howard Jones
oakland, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

This show was incredible, I allowed my children to see it with me and it brought tears to my eyes. God how can they take this young boys life away.

I am a mother of three and I myself have a teenager and God knows I am always talking to him, asking him to always do the right thing, but here comes these people and they contradict what you try to teach your children.

After the show they said Mommy he didn't do it and these people took his life, what gives them the right to play God? What do you answer to your children?

Marylyn Santiago
yonkers, , ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you so very much for having the courage and conviction to share this documentary with the public! I was disturbed, yet inspired after watching "An Ordinary Crime." I have vowed to share this story will my family, friends and fellow educators.

This is a horrifying example of why our judicial system needs an overhaul. Please continue to be vigilant in bringing injustice, and both sides of the story to the forefront.

Gina Fong
san diego, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

As always, your program has presented a very important real life story for all of us to absorb. This case is very disturbing. My experiences investigating armed robberies, asssaults, and murders for many years lends me some personal insight into both sides of this issue. Based on that, this Garner case looks to be an undeniable injustice!

It was not noted in the story whether federal appeals are being filed on this poor man's behalf. That and a tremendous public outcry should be initiated and/or ongoing until this apparent undeserved 'lynching' is reversed.

Detective M Henderson
spokane, wash

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
The "FAQs" section answers questions about what options are left for Garner at the state and federal level.


Dear FRONTLINE,

After viewing the Frontline program last night I came right to this website to see what one might do to help right the wrongs. From others comments comes the idea of sending an email to the governor of North Carolina which I will do immediately. It makes me sad to think how many others could be in the same position as Garner however, and what do we do about that?

As another person commented, elected judiciary is definitely one of the major culprits...along with the hideous racism that allows a misdirected judge to place more value on saving his own "face" than on the life of a young man.

Penelope LeGrande
newtown, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

First of all, thank you for reporting a story that no other media source has touched. We are lucky to have a public program with such journalistic integrity.

Second and most important, what can we do? How can we help Terrance Garner's case?

My heart was breaking throughout this story. A sixteen year old who has stayed out of serious trouble and was against guns was blamed simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The injustice in this case is horrible and the most important thing is to know how we can right this wrong.

Subini Eggen
tualatin, or

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Of the 1,200 letters received by FRONTLINE as of noon on Jan. 11, 2002, many writers are going to the "FAQs" section of this website where names and addresses of officials who are involved in this case can be found.


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a lifelong print journalist, I've admired the superior quality of the Frontline reports for years. "An Ordinary Crime" is among the best I've ever seen. I'll be surprised if it doesn't have the impact of one of my favorite justice classics, the documentary, "The Thin Blue Line," which resulted in the release of a innocent Texas man accused of a murder.

Over the years, I've observed a number of injustices while covering dozens of criminal cases. This one is right there at the top of the list. Kudos to Ofra Bikel and the other pros who put together this well-documented story that shed light on a dark corner of our criminal justice system.

Eric Miller
rockville, md


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you, Frontline for having the fortitude to produce such and insightful program. We often tell our children things like "do the right thing", "good wins over evil", "The system works". After viewing your show "An Ordinary Crime" I admittedly have to reevaluate my position. It is apparent in this case the system did not work. Although, this is said to be best system we have we should always strive to make it better. Viewing this program it looks as though the clock was rolled back 20 plus years.

If nothing else this story has encouraged and energized me to become even more of a political activist. "I can't speak loudly but my vote speak volumes".

D Jones
herndon, va.


Dear FRONTLINE,

I have never felt so grateful for the Canadian justice system in my life (such that IT is).

I am not a lawyer, and would never claim to be a legal expert, but from a high level this story points to exactly why I am so adamantly against the death penalty as well as an elected judiciary.

In my opinion, one interview nails what is at the root of this issue, the one with the police officer that described reactions of DA and police when the the real confession showed up - "There goes the election", and "there goes my house". Can your Attorney General do something ? Dispicable.

Susan Hodges
toronto, canada


Dear FRONTLINE,

I must commend Frontline on an excellent job of reporting. It appears to me that this program has awoken many eyes to

The criminal in this case obviously is not T. Garner but is Judge Jenkins and the distict attorney's office! These people are why the public has no faith in the judicial system because they are consumed with their own careers and advancements at the expense of the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth! To Gov. Mike Easley: Just yesterday you commuted the death sentence of a convicted murderer to life! A man who killed his girlfriend!

My question to you Gov. Easley is: Should an innocent man that is wrongly convicted by an incompetent, corrupt judge and district attorney remain in prison for this crime? Personally, I don't think so since the truth obviously was not sought out here!

My final thought is that the N.C. Attorney Generals Office should conduct an investigation of both Judge Jenkins and the Johnson County D.A.'s office and Mr. Garner should either get a new trial or furthermore, be released immediately!

Brian Keith
alamance county, north carolina


Dear FRONTLINE,

It was heart-wrenching to watch the story unfold, wanting till the end, in vain, to see a "happy ending".

It is a relief to know that media such as Frontline may be there to highlight the plight of those who have no where to go under the system.

In a world where all the media seems to notice is celebrities and politicians - stuff which mostly doesn't matter - it is gratifying to see that some producers in the media still have the inclination to follow an ordinary man's story.

V K
dallas, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a black woman, I have seen too many things that happen in our neighborhoods.

Just three days ago I witnessed police brutality in front of the place where I am working. It is terrible how the United States system treats minorities. The majority of white americans that I have spoken with are unaware of what is going on.

This is not the first case that I have watched where a black person was wrongfully put in jail. What is really wrong with this picture is "who cares if he is innocent," he is black and that is all that matters. The people who went to the press to state that they had wrongfully put this young guy in jail are heroic to say the least. Wake up America -

yvonne walker
chicago, illinois


Dear FRONTLINE,

Having worked for our County jail for 9 years, then moving to the Psychiatry Service at our local hospital for the last 5 years, the Terence Garner case just reinforces the the feelings I've developed over the last 14 years on the American Justice System.

Poor, people of color are not well served.

For the record, I am a white woman. I'm sure if Mr. Garner came from a family that could afford an expensive private attorney, he would not be where he is now.

bloomington, in


Dear FRONTLINE,

If the posted comments I've read are any indication of public opinion, I can only pray that justice will be soon be served. My prayers to the Garner family and to all that are fighting for justice. What a disturbing case.

rory mcmillan
elmont, new york

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