Black teen gets harsher sentence than his white co-defendant for the same crime

A verdict in a Wisconsin courtroom is getting some criticism after a Black teen received a harsher sentence than his white co-defendant in a case where the two lured another teen into a robbery and attacked him, The Journal Times reports.

Traound Oliver-Thomas, 18, was sentenced on Friday to serve five years — two years in prison and three years of extended supervision. He was 17 at the time of the attack. He was also sentenced to an additional seven months in the Racine County Detention Center in a separate case involving the theft of a phone.

Oliver-Thomas and Joseph Langenfeld, who was also 17 at the time of the attack, lured another teen into a backyard where he was beaten, threatened with a gun (which was only an airgun) and robbed. Oliver-Thomas' attorney, Jamie McClendon, said that Langenfeld was the one who pistol-whipped the victim. Oliver-Thomas was cooperative with police after the attack and answered questions, while Langenfeld hid from the police and then refused to cooperate when arrested.

Langenfeld reportedly disparaged Oliver-Thomas for talking to police -- an "arrogance comes from privilege my client has never had," McClendon said.

Langenfeld was offered a deal where the armed robbery charge would be dropped in exchange for a no contest plea to battery with the intent to cause harm, and the opportunity to have his record expunged. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison with two years probation.

Oliver-Thomas was not offered the same deal.

According to the Journal Times, Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of incarceration for Black men in the U.S., with just 6% of the state's population represented by Blacks but nearly 40% of those incarcerated in state prisons. In another contrast between the two defendants, Langenfeld's parents were able make the $5,000 cash bail after three months.

Oliver-Thomas remained in the detention center for the entire 14 months between arrest and sentencing -- where he ultimately contracted COVID-19, which made his time in the detention center longer because he couldn't come to court.

Read the full story over at The Journal Times.