Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Rapist Brock Turner 6 Months in Jail

I don’t like to talk bad about judges.  

Not because I don’t have strong opinions about some judges.  I do.  And not because I’m not a loudmouth.  I am.  The reason I don’t like to speak ill of those on the bench is simply that badmouthing judges can really backlash on an opinionated, loudmouth lawyer like myself.  But I will make an exception, because I think reasonable minds can all agree that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky really made a horrible, horrible call this past week when he sentenced Rapist Brock Turner to only 6 months of jail time and probation.

Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.  That is not my opinion.  It’s a fact.  He was convicted of three counts of sexual assault.  Two guys stopped Turner because it was obvious that the woman was unconscious.  The crimes he committed are about as heinous as crimes come.  And it’s unforgiveable. 

Let’s talk briefly about some crimes that poor people commit, and the years in prison they serve for those crimes.

In Kentucky, there are several victimless crimes that can get you sent to prison.  The first that comes to mind is using drugs.  Making your own drugs, growing marijuana plants, and even the simple possession of drugs can all be felony crimes.  Notwithstanding some exceptions for presumptive probation, “getting high” in Kentucky can get you WAY more time behind bars than Rapist Brock Turner will ever see.  In fact, making your own meth, which is obviously a bad idea – but still a victimless crime, can get you 20 years in prison.  

Theft - although it involves a perpetrator and a victim - also comes to mind.  If someone steals an item worth over $500, that’s a felony.  You can get 5 years in prison for Theft by Unlawful Taking.  And anyone with half a brain will tell you that, even though theft is a crime that inherently involves a perpetrator and a victim, raping another person is a far more egregious action than taking someone’s iPad.

If Rapist Brock Turner was a poor black criminal defendant, his swimming hobby would never have been reported.

If Rapist Brock Turner was a poor black criminal defendant, you’d see his original mugshot in stories instead of the cleaned up frat version.

If Rapist Brock Turner was a poor black criminal defendant, he would have gotten years upon years in prison for rape.

One of the factors for deciding whether an offender needs prison time is whether they pose a risk of danger to society.  In fact, it’s one of the factors Judge Persky “considered” stating bluntly, “I think he will not be a danger to others.”  Well, if the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, Judge Persky is flat wrong.  Sex offender recidivism statistics are staggering; 43% are likely to be re-arrested and 5.3% are re-arrested for another sex crime within 3 years of release from prison (according to the DOJ).

But you don’t have to know a single statistic to know “Rapists are dangerous to others.”

And as a side note – sure, it’s important to remind young people that getting blackout drunk is a bad idea.  In fact, it’s ok to say that bad things happen when you get blackout drunk.  But if you even insinuate that girls get raped because of alcohol, you’re contributing to the problem.  Rape happens because of Rapists.

Jails and prisons are overcrowded.* 
We spend more money to house someone in prison than to educate them.**  
At a time when Judges need to make smart decisions about which convicts do serious prison time, offenders with clear victims (who clearly suffer) need to be the ones serving that serious prison time.  That’s why Judge Persky did wrong.


* http://www.wdrb.com/story/31809242/release-louisville-metro-corrections-filled-to-capacity-some-inmates-to-be-moved-to-unused-jail-built-in-1950s; http://www.newsweek.com/unconstitutional-horrors-prison-overcrowding-315640; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pz3syET3DY

** http://money.cnn.com/infographic/economy/education-vs-prison-costs/

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