Media Alert
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
(512) 463-0123
March 30, 2007

Senator West applauds swift action by TYC officials in Cotton case

AUSTIN -- Last week State Senator Royce West (D- Dallas) was informed of the case of 14 year-old Shaquanda Cotton. The youth, a student at Paris High School, was sentenced to up to 7 years confinement in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) following a campus "shoving" incident where she was charged and found guilty of "assault on a public servant."

Today, Senator West was informed by TYC officials that Miss Cotton would be released. The following is Senator West's statement on the issue:

"Upon hearing of the situation involving Miss Cotton, my immediate reaction was one of dismay - in light of being just two weeks removed from the ordeal of Tyrone Brown. Based on the information I received regarding Shaquanda's case and subsequent sentencing, it became difficult for me to come to grips with this application of juvenile justice. As a former prosecutor, in no way did I feel that the offense matched the punishment," said Senator West.

"As a member of the joint legislative committee charged with investigating and providing oversight to TYC, I spoke with Interim TYC Director Ed Owens and recently appointed Conservator Jay Kimbrough and requested their review of Miss Cotton's case. What I found immediately was that Miss Cotton had already satisfied minimum sentencing requirements and had no serious disciplinary infractions during her stay at TYC's Jackson facility," said Senator West. "Friday afternoon, I was informed that Miss Cotton would be released to the custody of her mother with certain conditions."

"In committee hearings, TYC officials told legislators that they were presently reviewing TYC case files to determine if youth committees were being held without justification - as had been reported. After a review of Miss Cotton's case, Mr. Kimbrough reached the final decision to release Shaquanda from custody. While I applaud the rapid response of present TYC leadership, I can't help but think that there may be others who warrant release," said Senator West. "I do not have the same appreciation for how justice was dispensed by school officials and the sentencing court in Lamar County."

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 512-463-0123.