10 of the 11 former teachers convicted in the worst school cheating case in America were ordered jailed by an Atlanta judge immediately after the jury reached their verdicts.
Lawyers for the 10 convicted teachers were stunned at Judge Jerry Baxter's order to send their clients to jail to await their sentencing. Judge Baxter allowed one former educator to remain out on bond because she's pregnant.
The jury verdicts culminated a 5-year investigating into corruption and cheating to elevate test scores by 44 Atlanta public schools. 178 educators were implicated and confessed to changing test scores including 38 principals.
On March 29, 2013 the grand jury indicted 35 educators -- all black. 21 of the educators pled guilty to lesser charges. They received probation.
12 of the indicted teachers were tried on racketeering (RICO) and lesser charges of lying to investigators. RICO charges are usually reserved for mobsters and organized crime.
School superintendent Beverly Hall never faced charges in court. She died in March from breast cancer.
The 10 convicted teachers were shocked when they were slapped in handcuffs and marched out of court and onto a prison bus for the short trip to the Atlanta Fulton County jail.
One female attorney struggled to contain her emotions as she begged the judge to reconsider sending her client to jail.
She reminded the judge that none of the defendants have criminal records. But the judge was not moved. "They have made their bed and they will have to lay in it," he groused.
Judge Baxter continuously interrupted the lawyers and admonished them for wasting his precious time.
One attorney told WSB TV News he respected the justice system but he was surprised at the judge's order because the defendants are all former educators who are not flight risks.
The raw video courtesy of WSB-TV is riveting. It gives viewers a revealing look into the system of double standards that exists in the Georgia criminal courts.
The punishment never fits the crime for black defendants -- unless they can afford to hire attorneys who golf with judges on the weekends.
The judge's acrimonious attitude reminded me of a scene from Tuesday's episode of BET's Being Mary Jane, in which Mary Jane's boss -- a white man -- pondered why black people are never satisfied with our lot in life. "They have Beyonce… they have Jay Z… they have the NBA," he said.
On Wednesday, Judge Baxter expressed similar bitter language in regards to black people.
"They are convicted felons… they have been convicted, and that's enough for me," he said. "I have sat here for six months and listened to this whole thing… and now the rubber has met the road."
It's hard to imagine this same judge sending 10 white teachers to jail to await sentencing. The defendants in this case aren't built for jail. They are teachers whose weapons of choice were pencil erasers.
The Georgia justice system has to do better.
Sentencing is set for next Wednesday. Judge Baxter has rescheduled sentencing for April 13.
Watch the video below.