"The Strange Case of Tennie White"

"Did the EPA Prosecute and Jail a Mississippi Lab Owner Because of Her Activism?"

"On a muggy Thursday morning in June, I drove through the gates of the Federal Correctional Institute in Tallahassee to meet a convicted criminal who, as far as I can tell, is the only person connected to two huge environmental contamination cases in Mississippi to ever serve prison time.

Yet, strangely, the convicted felon I was on my way to meet wasn’t a polluter. On the contrary, Tennie White, who was prosecuted by a joint team made up of attorneys from the Environmental Protection Agency and the environmental crimes division of the Justice Department, had spent her professional life exposing contamination. She was an environmental lab owner who was particularly vocal about protecting poor African-American communities. Before she was charged and prosecuted, White had spent much of her time volunteering for an organization she had co-founded to help these Mississippians contend with pollution.

Although White, who is 57, had spent years closely involved with dramatic cases that stood out even in a state with more than its share of the country’s industrial pollution — two of which in particular resulted in severe harm to many people and millions of dollars in cleanup costs — White’s prosecution wasn’t obviously related to any of these incidents. Indeed, the crime White had been convicted of didn’t seem to have any environmental consequences at all."

Sharon Lerner reports for the Intercept November 25, 2016.

Source: The Intercept, 11/28/2016