Black and White Sentencing in America: The Brock Turner Case
BLACK AND WHITE SENTENCING IN AMERICA: THE BROCK TURNER CASE.
The Brock Turner case caused outrage nationwide and sent the media into a frenzy. The reaction to the case was fueled by many emotions: anger, disgust, and most importantly fear. A fear spurred by the realization that a rapist could draw more sympathy from a judge than his unconscious victim. After all, how could a man found guilty of rape walk free after serving only three months in a local jail? Brock Turner is the epitome of how white privilege and racial bias plague American society and its legal systems.
To many Brock Allen Turner would not seem like the “typical” rapist. If anything he would be labeled the typical “boy next door”. Brock was raised in Dayton, Ohio to an upper-middle class family. He is blond, athletic, and white. Brock Turner does not fit our society’s stereotypical rapist profile. Because of his whiteness, wealth, and status as a Stanford swimmer he was depicted to the jury as a victim of circumstance, fueled by alcohol. Brock couldn’t possibly deserve to rot in jail, given all his potential. This is the exact mindset of Judge Aaron Persky, Turner’s father, and Brock Turner himself. It is an inherently flawed and biased thought process, because as history has shown anyone can be a rapist. Race is not an excuse, potential is not an excuse, and alcohol is never an excuse for rape.
Brock’s privileged and entitled attitude screams out at readers in his letter. Brock beings his letter with a long detailed account of the party culture at Stanford. He describes the peer pressure he felt from his friends on the swim team and how drinking had become one of the normalities of his life. Brock’s letter is enraging, because although he does admit he was the “sole proprietor” of the events that occurred that fateful night in January, he never takes responsibility for his actions. Instead, he describes his victim as consenting and enjoying their sexual activities. He blames alcohol for negative impact he has had on his victim and himself, stating that he never wishes to drink ever again. He attempts to come across remorseful, but when it comes down to it he cannot hide his egoistic nature. His letter is one of undeserving self-pity and shifting of his blame onto circumstance.
“I wish I was never good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me”
Brock Turner’s words are those of someone who is completely self-involved and ignorant to how their actions affect others.
So how would have the sentencing been different if Brock Turner wasn’t white?
Enter Cory Batey.
Batey was a football player at the distinguished Vanderbilt University. Early in his career at Vanderbilt, when Batey was nineteen years old he raped an unconscious woman. Like Turner, he took photos of the assault and was obviously guilty. Brock Turner and Cory Batey both deserve to be punished for the magnitude of their crimes, but only Turner will walk free after three months. Unlike Turner, Cory Batey could serve up to twenty-five years for his crimes. Cory Batey will serve a sentence deserving of his malicious crimes. Does Cory Batey have potential? Of course he does, as most human beings do. However, potential is not a valid reason to excuse a rapist from paying for his crimes in jail. Judge Aaron Persky is a prime example of the bias that resides in the American courts.
Judge Persky’s bias is apparent when examining one of his other sexual assault cases, that of Raul Ramirez, an immigrant from El Salvador. Ramirez pleaded guilty to raping his female roommate and unlike Turner, apologized to his victim. If Judge Persky wasn’t guilty of bias, Turner should have received a similar sentence to Ramirez’s three year sentence.
It is disheartening to realize that in modern day society, racial bias is still so prominent in determining the length of a sentence. Criminals deserve a punishment that reflects the severity of their crimes and impact on their victims. If any positive meaning can be derived from the disgusting failure of Judge Persky in the case of Brock Turner, it is a call to action for reform. Throughout American history there have been swells of social injustice that bring necessary change for the nation. America is in a current state of extreme racial tension and cases like Brock Turner bring to the light the desperate need for a change in the racial climate of the United States. Racial tensions will most likely always reside in America, but it is the duty of the entirety of its citizens to try to expel bias from the judicial system. Groups like Black Lives Matter are igniting the country in a way that is completely necessary for the evolution of the legal system. People like Judge Persky should be banned from serving in court, as their racial biases will always be lingering during their decisions.
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Gay, Roxane. “White Crime.” Lenny Letter. Lenny, 20 June 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. http://www.lennyletter.com/politics/a430/white-crime/.
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Chan, J. Clara. “Stanford Rape Case Judge Ruled Harsher Sentence for Similar Sexual Assault Case.” TheWrap. The Wrap, 27 June 2016. Web. 30 Sept. 2016. http://www.thewrap.com/stanford-rape-case-judge-ruled-harsher-sentence-for-similar-sexual-assault-case/
Cleary, Tom. “READ: Brock Turner’s Full Statement to Judge Aaron Persky.”Heavycom. Heavycom, 08 June 2016. Web. 01 Oct. 2016. http://heavy.com/news/2016/06/brock-turner-full-statement-letter-judge-aaron-persky-court-victim-rape-stanford-rapist/