Scottsboro is a city in Jackson County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 14,770. Named for its founder Robert Scott, the city is the county seat of Jackson County.
Plaque Commemorating "Scottsboro Boys" TrialThe Scottsboro Boys case was among the most important cases in the history of American Jurisprudence. It went to the United States Supreme Court twice and established forever the principles that, in the United States, criminal defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel and that people may not be de facto excluded from juries due to their race. The case of the Scottsboro Boys arose in Scottsboro in 1931, when nine black youths, ranging in age from twelve to twenty, were accused of raping two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, one of whom would later recant. The victims and accused alike had all hitched rides on a passing train on the Southern Railroad freight route from Chattanooga to Memphis on March 25, 1931, which just happened to stop in Jackson County, Alabama where these women made their accusations to the local officials against these black youths. The defendants were brought to Scottsboro for trial, because it was the county seat of Jackson County.
The four trials, during the course of which most of the youths were convicted and sentenced to death by all-white juries despite the weak and contradictory testimonies of the witnesses, are now widely regarded (including in Scottsboro) as one of the worst travesties of justice perpetrated against blacks in the post-Reconstruction South. Only the first trials were held in Scottsboro. The case was, in reality, many cases that were tried only in the first instance in Depression era Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Of the original nine young black defendants (some of them minors), accused of gang raping two fellow hobo white women on a freight train, eight were quickly convicted in quick succeesion trials in a mob atmosphere in Scottsboro by all white juries and sentenced to death. The only two attorneys who were willing to take the cases had few qualifications for criminal defense work. They were unable to put up much of a defense when the judge gave them no time to prepare their defenses before the trials. He started the first trial as soon as they agreed to take the cases and then began each next case as soon the jury went out on the previous one.
Fortunately, the Scottsboro defendants benefitted from their two landmark triumphs in the United States Supreme Court mostly from the fact that they were all relieved from their death sentences they received at their first trial in Scottsboro. The Supreme Court ruled both times only that the way their convictions were obtained was improper and not that they were innocent. Those convicted spent no less than six years and as many as nineteen years incarcerated in harsh jails and prisons. The Scottsboro Boys had served long prison sentences when the arch segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace, in one of history's ironies, partially mitigated this widely construed injustice (after the United States Supreme Court had failed to do so twice) by issuing a pardon in 1976 for the one remaining Scottsboro defendant still subject to the Alabama penal system.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,654, and the median income for a family was $42,509. Males had a median income of $32,318 versus $21,965 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,430. About 9.9% of families and 14.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 20.5% of those age 65 or over.
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Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center - Category: Museums - 428 West Willow Street Scottsboro, AL 35768 (256) 244-1310
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