Thursday, June 6, 2013

She’s a mother of seven and he’s a truck driver

The mainstream media ran to the court of public opinion with the defense of Yanira Maldonado, the Arizona mother of seven, who was recently incarcerated in Mexico on suspicion of drug smuggling.

The 42-year-old woman was with her husband in Mexico for a funeral. She was taken into custody when Mexican authorities found 12 pounds of marijuana taped under her bus seat.

Mexican officials reportedly initially bartered with her husband over the amount of money he would have to pay to secure her release. Those negotiations ceased and eventually she was released without being charged.

She was in jail for eight days before her eventual release on May 30.

Back in the U.S., not a soul seemed to think the woman was capable of drug smuggling. The cries for her release were loud. Politicians were weighing in, watching the situation closely. She was a victim of circumstance. It was open and shut in the court of public opinion.

Flash back to April 2012. Dallas trucker Jabin Bogan took a wrong turn and crossed into Mexico with a load of ammunition.

He was arrested by Mexican customs agents on the Mexican side of the Bridge of the Americas in Juarez. He was originally charged with smuggling, but that was reduced to possession of ammunition – a much lesser crime in Mexico.

Bogan’s family was expected to pay a fine for his release, but that amount never was disclosed.

He was released from the Mexican prison system seven months after his arrest.

The court of opinion did not tilt in Jabin’s favor. It was assumed and wildly speculated that he was taking guns to the cartel.

His boss publicly stated his defense of Jabin. His family defended him.

Yet, the presumption of guilt remained for seven long months. He was up to no good.

In both cases, all the public has to go on is what the news reports. We don’t know every detail of either of the situations that landed Yanira and Jabin in jail.

But the two were certainly handled very differently in the media. If for no other reason, she was a mother of seven and he was just a truck driver.

Public perception, it’s a dangerous thing.