The case of Brother Imam Kwame Teague
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
Most of the time when we hear a person has been arrested we feel he must have done something or he or she wouldnâ€™t have been arrested. And when we hear someone has been convicted of a crime, our certainty of their guilt is strengthened. After all there must have been overwhelming evidence that left no doubt of the guilt. There was either a jury trial of 12 people that listened to evidence, weighed it in their minds and came to a unanimous decision; or a learned, educated judge who has sworn to uphold the law according to knowledge and investigation has rendered a decision. Again, it must be right.
Then there is the case of a person who has been arrested, tried, convicted, and serving time in a penal institution. Now this person HAS to be guilty. Right? Because appeals have been heard, and the evidence has been looked over for a second or third time, by different people, and they come to the same conclusion, the case is closed as far as we are concerned. And we say they must be guilty.
Well, that may, or may not be the case. With the advent of new technology, including DNA testing, we are finding there are many people who have been incarcerated for many years and we come to find out they were totally innocent. Just think of the many people falsely accused and wrongly convicted who would still be in prison if not for the technological advances and/or persistence by legal experts, friends and family.
Of course, we also are aware that of the entire prison population, I would guess that 90% of them claim they are innocent. And we also know that all of them that claim innocence are not innocent. But because we have seen so many cases of wrongful imprisonment, it behooves us to take all available means to prove a personâ€™s innocence. This is especially true when there are major discrepancies and obvious omissions of evidence by the law enforcement and legal representatives.
One such case that may fall in a similar category is the case of Kwame Teague. Brother Teague is a Muslim brother who has been incarcerated since February 1, 1994 in the North Carolina jail system. His charge is Murder. At the time of his arrest he offered an explanation of his whereabouts and gave the name of the person he was with. This person was picked up and questioned but the statement was never allowed to be used in court.
Other questionable actions was the appointment of a defense attorney who had been attorney for the opposition; not allowing testimony of people who gave statements exonerating Brother Kwame; allowing the testimony of a person who was in prison, had a bad case of AIDS-related dementia, and a reason to implicate Brother Kwame, and many others.
Brother Kwame has been a model person since his incarceration. He has served as imam at the institutions he has been imprisoned at with nothing but glowing remarks about his character Islamic spirit. His father, Brother James C. Teague, of Newark, NJ, is a very well respected brother in the Muslim community and has done a magnificent job of instilling moral qualities and academic and professional excellence in all his children, two boys and two girls. He says of them all he is most proud of Kwame because â€œhe has overcome the profound barrier of incarceration to perform the same type of dedicated contributions from behind prison walls that his brother and sisters perform in free society.â€
This article is by no means being written to try and establish the guilt or innocence of Brother Kwame. It is being written to shed light on the many injustices that occur in our penal system and to encourage strong and persistent investigation of cases when proven facts may prove a person is being denied justice. And because it LOOKS LIKE Kwame could be innocent, we owe our all.
There are many people like Kwame throughout the country and we encourage you to help in any way you can to present overlooked facts and omissions that could bring the truth to light.
We also encourage you to not automatically assume that when the authorities say someone did a crime that they must have done it. Mistakes can and have been made. No one is infallible except Almighty ALLAH.
As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin