Saturday, September 22, 2007

Junius Wilson and Floyd Brown

I posted almost a year ago about Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner's research on Junius Wilson (1908-2001)--a deaf African-American man who was arrested at age 17 but never tried, was labeled insane, was placed in a state hospital in North Carolina, castrated, and held for more than seventy years. The extraordinary book Burch and Joyner co-wrote will be released this fall, as Unspeakable: The Life Story of Junius Wilson (UNC Press 2007).

It would be nice to think that stories like Wilson's are safely in the past, but they're just not. Floyd Brown is another North Carolina man, also African-American, also disabled, also arrested under shady circumstances and never tried, held in the state hospital for the last fourteen years now. Carolina Legal Assistance is on the case, trying to get the murder charge against Brown dismissed, so he can be freed. "Mr. Brown has fallen through the cracks," says the CLA's Greg McGrew. No doubt about that.