Brock Turner was released from jail after serving a 90-day sentence, 93 days shorter than the six month sentence he received from Judge Aaron Persky on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford University.
Turner’s early release caused outrage across the country. According to Rolling Stone, his release was allegedly for “good behavior” as an inmate, but his punishment did not fit the crime. In fact, the Stanford rape case calls attention not only to the neglect of rape culture, but also a flawed justice system.
After being charged with three felony counts—assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person—Turner faced up to 14 years in prison. The prosecution asked for a six-year prison sentence.
Cory Batey, a former Vanderbilt student and football player, is also a convicted rapist who is serving a minimum of 15 years in prison. Evidence from security cameras showed the victim being carried into a Vanderbilt dorm room where the sexual assault was documented by cell phone cameras. In April, a jury found Batey guilty of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Rape is a violent crime, and Batey’s strict sentencing reflects the severity of the crime. Turner’s sentencing is more of a slap on the wrist even though the cases are alike. Both cases were equipped with ample evidence to prove their guilt, but Batey will be serving a significant amount of his life in jail while Turner serves out the terms of his probation at his family home.
Why do two people who commit the same crime receive different punishments? Turner was charged with intent to rape, and Batey was charged with aggravated rape. Although the charges were different, both included the violent sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Despite Turner’s charges being less severe, Turner’s sentence was inequitably shorter than Batey’s.
According to an article in the Stanford News, Stanford University has banned hard liquor at undergraduate parties. College administrators like John L. Hennessy, Stanford University President, have blamed alcohol for the high-risk behaviors that result from drinking, making it seem like rape is something caused by drinking as opposed to being seen as violent tendencies in individuals. Protesters bearing guns and homemade signs that read, “If I rape Brock, will I only do 3 months?” have gathered outside of Turner’s home in Ohio. People are angry and rightfully so, but making excuses and threats are not solutions to the problem at hand. Instead, action needs to be taken to create legislation that protects victims and equally punishes rapists.
Persky thought Turner was not a threat to anyone and believed that a harsh prison sentence would have a “severe impact” on him. Sympathy worked in his favor, but there was no sympathy in Batey’s case.
Steps are being taken to prevent cases like this from happening again. A bill created by Sacramento lawmakers says a person convicted of sexual assault would be barred from probation. After the bill passed unanimously, it was sent to Governor Jerry Brown to be signed.
Evan Low, a Democrat from Campbell, California said, “Rape is rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist. While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.”
In an ideal world, rape would not happen. Until that happens, the judicial system needs to ensure that each sentence fits the crime, equally and universally.