Photograph of Eugene Backstron, second from right, shaking hands with his attorney, Herbert Simmons, after Backstron is released from a Los Angeles jail. Marguerite Robinson, left, executive secretary of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Congress (CRC), and CRC staff members Celia Rodriguez, second from left, and Shifra Meyers, right, join in the celebration. The CRC waged a successful legal battle to prevent Backstron from being extradited to Mississippi. Backstron's case originated in 1929, when he was sentenced to a seven-year term in a Mississippi jail for stealing food from a grocery store. Scott later escaped with another prisoner, but was arrested on a vagrancy charge in Tennessee. While in jail, Tennessee authorities discovered his identity, and sent him back to the Mississippi prison. In Mississippi, he was told that the man with whom he had escaped from prison had stolen $8, and Scott was an accessory to the crime. Backstron received a life sentence for this robbery. Backstron escaped after serving 11 years, and eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1949. One night while taking a walk, Los Angeles police questioned Backstron and found a gun and screw driver in the valise he was carrying. They charged him with burglary, but dropped this charge when they learned Backstron was wanted by the state of Mississippi for escaping from prison. The Los Angeles Civil Rights Congress, with help from the ACLU, NAACP and numerous labor unions, urged California Gov. Earl Warren to refuse to extradite Backstron to Mississippi, without success. CRC then filed a lawsuit to prevent extradition. A Los Angeles judge eventually declared that the State of California had a responsibility to prevent a person from receiving cruel and unusual punishment in Mississippi, and released Backstron from jail.
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