Woman convicted of vehicular homicide for crossing the street to get home from bus stop

Some news stories just make you lose all faith in humanity.

According to the office of Cobb County prosecutor Barry Morgan, Nelson – who had no car at the time – committed vehicular homicide by attempting to cross a five-lane highway with her three kids to get to her apartment, after being let off the bus.

An Atlanta-area mother who lost her four-year-old son to a hit and run while crossing the street has been charged and convicted of vehicular homicide.

Perhaps this is not surprising:

Nelson, 30 and African-American, was convicted on the charge this week by six jurors who were not her peers: All were middle-class whites, and none had ever taken a bus in metro Atlanta.

I can’t even describe how disgusted I feel that I live in a country which punishes low-income women to this degree. I’ve written before about the relationship between transportation, poverty and stress–but this case takes it to the most absurd degree.

As this post points out, it would be much cheaper and more just to, I don’t know, put in crosswalks at bus stops located on busy highways, rather than putting an innocent women in prison? The culture of criminalization, particularly of low-income people of color, has risen to such heights in this country. What good does putting Nelson in jail do? She has already suffered the worst punishment–the loss of her child.

As a friend said, the prosecutors “stuck a knife in a grieving mother and twisted it.” Now she’s awaiting sentencing of up to 36 months in jail and working desperately to make provisions for her kids, should she be sent away. Prosecuting people like Raquel Nelson, who truly are the victims of poor planning and bad design, is like closing the door of the proverbial barn and then burning it down. One well-marked crosswalk would save more lives, and in all likelihood it would cost less than this malicious prosecution cost the taxpayers of Georgia.

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