After a review by the state attorney general, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday that it would allow a Philadelphia woman charged last year with illegally bringing into New Jersey a gun that was legally registered in Pennsylvania to enter a pretrial-intervention program and avoid jail time.
The prosecutor’s previous stance in the case involving Shaneen Allen, 27, was to make the case a “deterrent,” either forcing a plea or bringing it to trial. The mother of two could have faced up to five years in prison.
If you’re not familiar with the case of Shaneen Allen, you should be. We’ve mentioned her before. Until now, her case has been a complete miscarriage of justice. An example of the courts and prosecutors putting politics ahead of public safety and the interests of justice. Now, it looks like maybe, just maybe, justice will be served.
Shaneen Allen is a single mom who, after being robbed previously, applied for and was issued a license to carry a concealed handgun in her home state of Pennsylvania. She wanted to protect her family and, in accordance with the law, had no criminal history. The only “crime” she has ever committed was making the mistake of driving into New Jersey and an otherwise trivial traffic violation that ultimately led to her arrest when she elected to be honest with the officer who pulled her over about her possession of a handgun.
The prosecutor, Jim McClain, initially had no interest in allowing Allen to enter a pre-trial intervention program like the one he allowed for Ray Rice. McClain said the charges against Allen were, “too serious to warrant divergence.” Shocking given that Allen’s procedural error is merely a “crime of location” in which no one was injured or in anyway inconvenienced other than Allen herself. By comparison, Rice knocking a his fiancée unconscious and then dragging her limp body out of the elevator like a piece of trash can only be described as a crime of violence and one that most people would think should be prosecuted. McClain’s priorities seemed to be 180 degree out of phase with the rest of the world.
But last week, McClain motioned to push the trial back. We worried this might just be McClain looking for another angle to stick the knife in but, as it turns out, the state attorney general stepped in. Shaneen Allen now has an opportunity for a pre-trial diversion McClain and Superior Court Judge Michael Donio had originally denied to Allen but, granted for Rice. Hopefully, Ms. Allen can walk away from this and somehow retain her right to own and carry a firearm so long as she stays out of New Jersey.