The "R" word is one I typically steer clear of. It is not something I like to throw around. When it comes up in conversations I do my very best to remain absolutely silent. I tend to have a different perspective on rape. After my brother was wrongfully convicted of rape my outlook on it and those involved has changed. I NEVER speak my mind on it, but today I am appalled. Why? Have you heard of Brock Turner? Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, was convicted on three felonies counts of sexual assault in 2015. He was recently sentenced to a whopping (sarcasm) six months. SIX MONTHS. Need I say more?
I have tons more to say... I've decided to write an open letter to Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who is responsible for this measly sentence.
Dear Judge Persky,
The people are outraged. I am utterly disgusted. It's not fair. I am not sure how you could have come to the conclusion to let Mr. Turner off so easily. He's GUILTY, of raping an unconscious and intoxicated woman. Quite frankly, I think, I know, this is clearly about privilege. You afforded this young man and the world the opportunity to see just how twisted our judicial system truly is.
Why do I care so much? I am the sister of a man who was convicted of rape. He was just 16 years old. He was snatched out of our home in front of our distraught, weeping mother without explanation. He was treated like an animal. He was just a kid yet he was forced to be tried as an adult. He faced 41 years to life in prison. My brother was forced to take a plea deal because, "The jury is just going to see a big black kid and assume you're". He was just a kid. He had no prior incidents with the law, not even a speeding ticket. My brother spent 5 years and 2 months in prison. For the first few months we were not even allowed to visit him. When he reached a facility we could visit it took us 4 hours to get there. My mom and I drove 4 hours to visit with him and 4 hours back to get home, every other weekend. We were stuck in the most bittersweet situations. We got to see our loved one but we hated that it was at a prison. Once he was finally released he had to register as a sex offender on his birthday every year. His parole was strict. He was even issued an GPS ankle monitor. Four years ago, my brother was exonerated. The truth finally came out and it set him free.
There is a huge difference between my brother, Brian Banks and Brock Turner...innocence. An innocent boy received a 6 year sentence. You sentenced a guilty man to 6 months. You said that a longer sentence would cause a severe impact on Turner's life. Isn't that what punishment is supposed to do? Isn't he supposed to feel an impact for the crime her actually committed?
What does this say to men and women like Brian Banks that have been wrongfully convicted of a rape, or any crime for that matter? Does this not speak to white privilege? Is this a case of the "have and have nots? How do you plan to explain this? What kind of remorse will you show?
Did you think about the victim? Did you think of all the rape victims who are already afraid to speak up and press charges against their assailants? Aren't they now going to be even more reluctant to come forward? For what? They are just going to get off easy anyway?
Have you thought about any of the countless women that Brock Turner may come across in the future, after his upcoming release?
SIX MONTHS does NOT fit the crime sir! You elected not to send him to a State prison. You could have given him a maximum of 14 years. But you slapped him on the wrist. His parents will never have to learn to cope with not having their son in arms reach on the holidays. They will never have sleepless nights, wondering if their son is safe in a maximum security state prison. Brock Turner's siblings will never have to be forced to grow up and face the fact that their brother is serving a sentence for a crime he never committed. Their family pictures will be complete. His family will never have to wonder how their loved one is dealing with career criminals.
This is a slap in the face.
I have tons of questions for you but I will leave you with this one... If Brian Banks or anyone else that looks like him sat before you for sentencing, how would you rule?