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Read your comments Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 20:31 GMT
Read your comments
Tom Coleman
Tom Coleman - centre of a major race scandal
Texas undercover - was broadcast on BBC Two on Sunday, 2 March, 2003 at 1915 GMT.

Because of the high volume of correspondence we receive, we cannot guarantee to publish every single e-mail.

Have your say

While the events in Tulia are indeed horrible, this type of justice can be found in any corner of the state of Texas. The word of an alleged drug seller is always trumped by the word of a law officer. Most defendants plea bargain a prison sentence rather than face a jury. Tulia's case stands out because it was the most blatantly racist.
David A. Hawes, USA (Texas)

For those of us who live in Tulia - and a thousand little towns like it - it's just business as usual

Alan Bean
Any serious student of prohibition knows that it benefits only criminals who use their profits to make the drug problem worse and the special interests who gain power and money from its existence, all described in detail by Nobel Prize winners like Milton Friedman and Gary Becker. The Tulia debacle is just a side show typifying the abuse of power made possible by this atavistic reminder of the corruption of public officials that dominated alcohol Prohibition in the USA. The beat goes on.
Jerry Epstein, USA

I am a Canadian citizen living in Tulia, Texas. When our local reform organization, Friends of Justice, started raising questions about the Tulia undercover operation two-and-a-half years ago we never dreamed we would one day see Coleman and Sheriff Larry Stewart featured on the BBC. I know aspects of the Tulia story are faintly reminiscent of an old Monty Python Sketch. But for those of us who live in Tulia (and a thousand little towns like it) it's just business as usual. Thanks to Tom Mangold and his crew for coming to Tulia and airing this frightening story.
Alan Bean, United States (Tulia, Texas)

Funnily enough this was the state where our friend George W came from, does this give us an insight into the psyche of Blair's admirer. At least we have a relatively neutral judicial system here. However miscarriages of justice do commonly occur, especially among ethnic minorities. At least that could never happen in Britain to the same extent.
Fred Davies, Wales

This programme told us a lot about 'modern' America

Ray McGowan
Note to the world: If you really wish to get a response from the policy-makers in Washington with whom you seemingly most disagree with, try burning a Confederate flag instead of an American one for a change, you'd be more likely to elicit the reaction you're looking for. I'm a white New Yorker, and I voted along with the majority of America last election (not for G Dubyah Bush). Yee-Haw.
Lance, USA

Glenn Christmas should take his head out of the sand and have a real look at the world. Has he never heard of the prosecutions responsibility to 'prove beyond a reasonable doubt' and where was the judge in all this, had not he/she heard of that? The defendant does not have to prove his/her innocence. This programme told us a lot about 'modern' America. Ray McGowan
Ray McGowan, UK

This is typical of America. They want to police the world and give justice to the world, but they can't give justice to their own people. They still have racist, ignorant, bigoted individuals in positions of responsibility. They still have a massive gap between rich and poor, where the poor are always the losers. The U.S.A. needs to look in its own backyard, and put its own house in order, before it tries to put the world to rights.
Tim Gardiner, U.K.

And GW says he wants to bring freedom and justice to the Middle East

Karl Terry
Even the most racist of police operations with no aspirations of fairness or justice would have the common sense to realise that this kind of excessive and concentrated tactic would eventually be self defeating. Further evidence (if evidence were needed - apparently in Texas it isn't) that stupidity and racism are never far apart.
Richard Spragg, UK

The "investigating " officer should be brought up in front of the courts and be charged. He is the one who should be in prison. I find it hard to relate to the racist redneck attitude that was shown. How these people can sleep at night is beyond me! If there is anything else I could do to help these people please let me know. "Detective Coleman" will be going to hell!!
Kris Matthews, England

That such racism and such a miscarriage of justice is still rife in small town America is no surprise. What is surprising is how the judicial system in Tulia can get away with it.
Kelvin O'Mard, England

How can we possibly sanction going to war alongside a country which flaunts justice so blatantly, with the same hypocrisy of persecution with which it accuses Saddam Hussein of being guilty, yet we ignorantly willingly subscribe to it at home ourselves when we should be attacking the state which permits and perpetuates this system in this insane "civilised" world.
Martin Boyle, UK

Unfortunately this is seldom an isolated case

Chris Kelly
And GW says he wants to bring freedom and justice to the Middle East. I bet they can't wait!
Karl Terry, UK

This is a sad reflection on the type of justice present in the USA at the end of the 20th century. In this day and age it should not be possible for anyone to be successfully prosecuted for a felony on the basis of one man's testimony, even if he carries a badge. Unfortunately this is seldom an isolated case.
Chris Kelly, UK

What is the percentage of black people in the UK imprisoned as well? We are not that much different. And if we are not black we are poor. No? Only the odd rich person goes to jail here and I suppose it's the same in the U.S. To be innocent and have your life destroyed must be the worst thing in the world. The programme was excellent. It gives me hope that people still care about other people.
Eleanor Boyd, UK

Racism is still very much alive

Colleen Harris
So much for the Land of the Free (Blacks please read the small print). What was so shocking is that the local and state authorities can't see anything wrong. Without the FBI America would be like the bad old days.
Jason McAnea, England

I am so glad the BBC exposed this injustice because it highlights the problem that racism is still very much alive. Yes I am black and yes this is probably a biased email but as the Correspondent programme showed, black people are still oppressed to some various degree.
Colleen Harris, Great Britain

It makes me sick to see a man who can cause so much vindictiveness against so many people and still sleep at night. Tom Coleman should not be a part of any society and should have defiantly not had any rule over society. I would like to see justice take this man to jail for a exceptionally long time, and see the people who he has wrongly jailed compensated.
Callum Gibson, England

Unfortunately, there are still many officers who act & think like Coleman

Officer Howard J. Wooldridge
As one of a few Afro-Americans living outside of the US, I am glad to see an interest being taking to investigate the injustices which continue to take place inside "the good ole' USA". I did not find myself flabbergasted by the material presented, but more angered at the mentality of the people who are in charge in the US; having a blind eye to those things which do not directly have an effect on the community at large or benefiting from the misfortunes of others.
Alicia (Afro-Native American)

As a law enforcement professional, I am extremely embarrassed by the slipshod work of Tom Coleman. He is a disgrace to the rest of us who have carried a badge & gun. That he targeted only blacks and those romantically involved with blacks he could almost be a KKK member with a badge. Disgusting!! Unfortunately, there are still many officers who act & think like Coleman.
Officer Howard J. Wooldridge (retired), USA

Mind your own business - thank you and have a nice day

Camilla Hubert
It's not just the Civil Rights movement in the USA that has been reinvigorated. I feel that must increase my efforts for social justice in the UK too.
Ingrid Alexander

What an amazing programme about Tulia, I was gripped; the most chilling person was not the dubious undercover policeman, Tom Coleman, but the juror who just wanted the defendant to 'say he was sorry'!! With little or no care whether he was innocent or not. Those poor people did not have a chance. How frightful!!!
Natasha, UK

Showcasing the serious issues in Tulia, Texas was not surprising. What I would like to know, however, is why is the BBC is focusing on America's undercover policies and cops? The UK has enough of its own problems that could and should be covered on the BBC. Mind your own business. Thank you and have a nice day.
Camilla Hubert, The Netherlands

How can this happen in a country calling itself civilised

Ann-Margaret Whitaker
How a country, that proclaims that 'Truth, Justice and the American way' are all important, has allowed such an obviously flawed investigation to proceed is totally beyond me. Once Truth and Justice go, what remains? Maybe other American states can apply pressure to the Texan authorities to ensure that injustices such as these be prevented from happening ever again.
Gavin Minion, UK

It's amazing when you hear such things are happening in the USA, the self proclaimed champion of democracy, justice, equality and human rights. Such a thing might never happen in China, Iraq or North Korea. Tania's case alone is enough to clear all the 46 black people arrested by the well known criminal, Tom. This is 11th century barbarism in the heart of a 21st century superpower nation.
Kusi Davis, Ghana

Because Tom Coleman is not a saint doesn't mean the criminals he put behind bars are innocent. It is rather obvious, perhaps I should say crystal clear, that you think any arrest for drugs is wrong. You clearly want drugs legalized and drug users to be set free because it is a "victimless crime". How in the world can you make an honest presentation when you are so very biased? I am an American and not in favour of legalized drugs.
Glenn Christmas

What is the conviction ratio of black to white people charged with drug offences in the UK

Mike Rennie
What is wrong with the USA that innocent people find themselves in jail while a guilty man roams the street? Why can't America grow up?
Babs Baba, UK

How can this happen in a country calling itself civilised? How can Tom Coleman and the woman juror interviewed be allowed to walk free? Shame on you Texas. May you reap the harvest you so deserve.
Ann-Margaret Whitaker, Guernsey-Channel Islands

Would defence lawyers in Britain have been able to access Government and police documents here under a Freedom of Information act? Ask Jack Straw! Would the "Tulia law" have been passed in Britain? Stop and search type practices are still a reality - though supposedly banned. What is the conviction ratio of black to white people charged with drug offences in the UK? Pots and kettles come to mind.
Mike Rennie, Scotland

I am extremely concerned about the nature of Texan justice - especially about the recent execution of Jacky Elliot, despite pleas on his behalf by such notable public figures as Jack Straw. I very much hope that a review of his case will still take place despite his execution.
Andrew Hunn, UK

Every time it seemed that it could not get more pantomime-like, it did

R.E.A.
Just goes to show how simple presumptions can be wrong. I assumed the basic right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty was ingrained in all westernised law. Despite the anit-terror and new homeland protection laws which threaten everyone's human rights, especially those most easily villianised. I guess things are more precarious than they seem if this can happen to so many people so easily based on existing processes.
David, England

Every time it seemed that it could not get more pantomime-like, it did. I can understand the reticence of the Texan police department to answer questions directly - they should, I hope, be thoroughly ashamed of letting such a flawed investigation occur under their nose.
R.E.A., UK

How the southern states of America can possibly be counted as developed and humane states is beyond my comprehension. Nightly on the news we here Tony Blair and George Bush preach that we should invade Iraq because of how the state treats its people, especially the Kurds. It appears to me that this documentary highlights the similar frightening treatment of black people in Texas.
Michael O Broin, Ireland

This programme should shock me but it doesn't, mind you I didn't think that Texas could sink much lower. How about a programme on America's lack of human rights?
Sarra Burton, UK

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