Judge Joe Brown on 5-Day Prison Sentence: It's Like a 'Slave Warehouse'
By Raphael Chestang
Judge Joe Brown was released from a Tennessee jail on Tuesday after serving a five-day sentence for contempt of court. Following his release, the former Memphis judge spoke to ET about how he views the justice system from the other side.
"Being inside a jail is like being in the slave warehouse," Judge Joe Brown told ET. "The problem with being in a jail is not whether you have TV sets, radios or air conditioning. It's the fact that you're confined against your liberty."
Brown, 68, was observing juvenile court proceedings at the Shelby County Criminal Court in Memphis, Tennessee last March when he was approached by a woman who asked him to take a look at her child support case. He told ABC News at the time that he felt obliged to help her and ended up going before a judge on her behalf.
Brown was found in contempt when he reportedly became verbally abusive to court workers and ignored Juvenile Court Magistrate Harold Horne's warning to calm down.
"This is the worst, most racist, discriminatory operation [ the justice department] have ever investigated," Brown told ET, claiming that there was no precedent of a retired trial judge being arrested in the way that he was in the state of Tennessee. "But that did one thing," he continued. "It firmed up in me, when all this stuff was going on, that I've got to come out of retirement and I've got to do a show again."
Brown already has a title for his next show should it come to fruition, True Verdict. One of the first things Brown did upon his release was focus on drafting out details for the proposed TV show, but while inside he was focused on what he saw as problems with the justice system.
"It's no longer concerned so much with controlling crime as it is dealing with those people who are surplus labor. In other words, this country hasn't paid enough attention to making sure everybody has a job," Brown said. "They get the first felony so you can't vote anymore in life and you no longer can get a job, so there's a lot of money to be made by locking people up... But we aren't doing anything about correcting this problem, and I think it's time that we develop a national and local leadership that's committed to doing something about it, which will be, amongst other things, one of the points and topics that will be looked at [on the new show]."