Program Note: Tune in tonight for Gary Tuchman's full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/05/art.tenaha.highway1.jpg caption="A sign in Tenaha, Texas where more than 150 African Americans and Latinos have accused police officers of pulling them over for minor infractions and taking their valuables."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/05/art.tenaha.highway2.jpg caption="A sign off of the Tenaha highway in Shelby County, Texas."]
The speed limit through the center of the tiny town of Tenaha, Texas is 35 miles per hour. I made sure when I drove there that my speedometer never even got to 36. Too many negative things have happened to too many drivers after being pulled over for infractions as minor as that.
The allegations against law enforcement people in Tenaha and in Shelby County, Texas are the kind of allegations you've heard about people in Cuba, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union. People in charge are accused of manipulating laws, blackmailing, extorting, and not giving a you know what about civil rights and common decency.
Here's the deal: at least 150 drivers, virtually all of them African Americans or Latinos have accused the town cops of pulling them over for minor infractions. Once pulled over, the drivers are often asked if they have money. If they say yes, these drivers tell us the cops start going through the car. If police find a lot of money, they are often arrested for money laundering, with no mention of any evidence other than the money. Once they are brought to jail, they find out about a proposed deal from the cops, and often from the District Attorney of the county.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/05/04/face.transplant.patient/art.face.transplant.cnn.jpg caption="Connie Culp, 46, was identified as the first recipient of a face transplant in the United States. "]
CNN Medical Producer
I felt the air catch in my throat when I first saw her. She was tinier than I thought she would be. I don't know why, but I thought the first nearly full face transplant recipient in the United States might be taller.
Connie Culp walked up to the lectern, with some assistance, to address the news media five months after undergoing a face transplant. She was here to show us her new face, 80 percent of which once belonged to another person.
"I got me my nose," she exclaimed. I could see a hint of a smile. Her new face has not healed enough yet for her to fully express that emotion.
What Culp looks like today is a far cry from what she looked like at this time last year. Her face used to be concave, a crib for scar tissue and not much else. She had no nose, no palate, no cheeks, she could barely breathe on her own.
The first thing that struck me was the skin on Culp's face. I was astounded by how smooth it was. Where was the scarring? I came to find out about the painstaking process doctors used to erase those scars from Culp's face.
Tonight on AC360°, stunning allegations of highway robbery in a small Texas town. Dozens of drivers claim they've been held up for cash, cars and jewelry. Even more shocking is who some victims are blaming – the police who deny the accusations against them.
Don't miss Erica Hill's webcast on Gary Tuchman's report during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST
Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ
Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.
Here are some of them:
1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)
And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/05/04/face.transplant.patient/art.face.transplant.cnn.jpg caption="Connie Culp, 46, was identified as the first recipient of a face transplant in the United States."]
America's first face transplant recipient is no longer a secret. Her name is Connie Culp. The 46-year-old mother of two spoke at a news conference at the Cleveland Clinic today, where the groundbreaking operation was performed five months ago.
"I guess I'm the one you came to see today," she said as she showed off the results of the transplant.
It's been a long journey for Connie. Five years ago, she had been shot in the face from just eight feet away by her husband, then he turned the gun on himself. Neither died. He went to prison for seven years. She struggled to survive. The shotgun blast destroyed her nose, cheeks and one eye. She lived in constant pain. She couldn't breathe on her own and relied on a tube in her windpipe to help her. Connie underwent 30 surgical procedures to try to fix her face. None worked.
That all changed back in December when she underwent the 22-hour face transplant surgery.
Tonight 360 MD Sanjay Gupta shows us how the procedure was done and see how it has transformed Connie's life for the better.
Would you undergo a face transplant if needed?
Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/05/pakistan.taliban/art.camp.afp.gi.jpg caption="A Pakistani boy walks through a camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, after fleeing Taliban-Pakistani fighting. "]
Teresita C. Schaffer
Center for Strategic & International Studies
The attack on the authority of the Pakistani state that is being played out on the front pages of today’s newspapers has been building up for the better part of a decade. Reestablishing a stronger political and state structure is possible, but becomes more difficult each time the state appears to cede control to the insurgents.
The U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan acknowledges the central importance of strengthening the Pakistani state. In practice, the United States has only indirect influence over the key ingredient in such an effort—the determination of Pakistan’s leaders and the effectiveness of its basic government institutions.
Program Note: Tune in tonight for Gary Tuchman's full report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/05/05/texas.police.seizures/art.daniels.cnn.jpg caption="Roderick Daniels of Tennessee says a Texas police officer tried on his jewelry in front of him."]
Gary Tuchman and Katherine Wojtecki
Roderick Daniels was traveling through East Texas in October 2007 when, he says, he was the victim of a highway robbery.
The Tennessee man says he was ordered to pull his car over and surrender his jewelry and $8,500 in cash that he had with him to buy a new car.
But Daniels couldn't go to the police to report the incident.
The men who stopped him were the police.
Daniels was stopped on U.S. Highway 59 outside Tenaha, near the Louisiana state line. Police said he was driving 37 mph in a 35 mph zone. They hauled him off to jail and threatened him with money-laundering charges - but offered to release him if he signed papers forfeiting his property.
"I actually thought this was a joke," Daniels told CNN.
But he signed.
"To be honest, I was five, six hundred miles from home," he said. "I was petrified."
Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session Anchor
We are wasting millions of tax dollars to prosecute petty offenses in this country, creating huge deficits in state and local budgets, and violating the Constitution while we’re at it. That’s according to a new report from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. And it is true, we criminal defense attorneys are a biased bunch, always looking out for the Constitution. But if that’s not enough to convince you, think about the cost.
Incarceration costs an average of $50 to $60 per person per day; and that’s not counting the expensive prosecution of these kinds of cases.
Like most criminal lawyers, I cut my teeth on misdemeanors; I can tell you, from personal experience, the volume is staggering. The average state misdemeanor rate is 3,500 cases per 100,000 citizens. That means taxpayers are paying for more than 10 million misdemeanor prosecutions per year. The courts are clogged, public defenders and prosecutors are forced to handle hundreds more cases than they can ethically manage, while spending just minutes preparing for each case. And yes, defendants are completely deprived of their constitutional right to counsel. Click on link to view NACDL report.