11/11/2014 11:18 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

In Alabama, Judges Play God

On an April night in 1997, when Shonelle Jackson was eighteen, he went out to a local club in Montgomery, Alabama. As he and several friends watched a d.j. perform, a young man called Cocomo—a gang member from across town—walked up behind him and slapped him in the head, then ran off. The next day, Jackson, who had no car, approached a known thief named Antonio Barnes and asked him to steal him a ride. Jackson wanted to find Cocomo and “holler at him.”

Read more on The New Yorker