Napoleon Brown hasn’t always made the best choices in life. In 2000, he robbed a diner in San Francisco. While fleeing the crime scene, he pushed mother-of-two Lenthias White out of the getaway car and directly into Golden Gate Bridge traffic.
A vehicle soon struck the woman, killing her.
Brown has also been involved with hard drugs. While serving his 44-year sentence for the killing and robbery, he was busted with heroin that had been smuggled in. His sister, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, admits that Brown’s drug problem developed at an early age and “led to a young life of crime.”
But now that very same sister says it’s time for his freedom.
“Too many people, particularly young black men like my brother was when he was convicted, are not given an opportunity to become contributing members of society after they have served time in prison,” Breed wrote in a recently released October letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown. “I believe my brother deserves that opportunity.”
The appeal to the governor came just months after Breed became mayor, and less than halfway through her brother’s 44-year sentence.
This timing, along with the fact that Brown leaves office in January, should be enough to begin raising some eyebrows. If she was interested in criminal justice reform, there are plenty of nonviolent offenders who deserve to have their cases reviewed.
Breed, however, claims the letter is right on time — her brother is finally ready to re-enter society and is “committed to turning his life around,” she says.
Unfortunately, Breed has sometimes been less than truthful about her brother’s situation.
In Brown’s 2005 trial, his sister denied telling police officers her brother’s nickname. The initial investigator’s report from five years earlier reveals a much different story, however. Breed originally told investigators both of her brother’s nicknames, “S.B.” and “Sonny Boy.”
As Brown’s victim lay dying, she gave police one of these nicknames, implicating him in the crime.
Breed has not been completely transparent about her role in defending her brother, either. In fact, her letter doesn’t even mention that she provided an alibi for him. Breed claims he was sound asleep on their grandmother’s couch less than an hour before the time police gave for the diner robbery.
Despite not apologizing for his behavior in the letter, Breed still doesn’t seem to grasp the full gravity of her brother’s crime.
Apparently oblivious to the fact that Brown violently killed a young mother, Breed writes that she considers the sentence unfair. She says Brown has completed “parenting programs, alternatives to violence programs, and restorative justice programs.”
Although Breed’s letter also mentions her brother’s completion of a 12-step program, it fails to bring up his relatively recent heroin charge.
And if freed, Napoleon Brown won’t be hitting the street empty-handed, either.
His sister confirmed in the letter that he would have access to a job, a home and counseling services.
Breed’s final appeal in the letter says that prison isn’t the place for her brother to make “meaningful amends.” She argues his release would be “what’s best for both Napoleon and society overall.”
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