Brock Turner: Do Black Lives Matter?

Brock Turner Mugshot

Brock Turner and the Black Lives Matter movement do matter. Turner is a perfect example of a much larger problem within this country. There are currently more African-American men in prison than in college. Black men notoriously receive harsher sentencing for heinous crimes than white men. This may not be true in every circumstance, but the privilege lies with the affluent, Caucasian-American population. Brock Turner is a shining example of this, which is what he has to do with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Brock Turner Mugshot
Meet Corey Batey. He is a former Vanderbilt University student, an outstanding sportsman, and also African-American. In April of this year, Batey was convicted of raping an unconscious, classmate when he was 19-years-old in 2013. While Brock Turner received only six months in jail when convicted (and only served three months) for the same crime, Batey was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15-20 years in prison, a rather significant difference.

Corey Batey
This is not to say that Batey should have been given a lesser sentence. In fact, his sentencing seems appropriate. The problem lies in the fact that there are racial disparities in sentencing, appeals, and plea bargaining. Turner most certainly should have been sentenced longer, regardless of whether jail was too hard on him. Being raped while unconscious was hard to his victim, but she gets no reprieve from that nightmare. Why should he?

Then there’s Brian Banks, an African-American, former football star, and respected young man, who served five years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. He believes that Turner has experienced hidden advantages and benefits of his race and class. Banks had no criminal record prior to his arrest at 16-years-old, yet he was tried as an adult, spent a year in juvenile hall awaiting sentencing, and faced up to 41 years in prison. Rather than taking the case to trial, he took a plea out of fear of being a black man facing an all-white jury.

Brian Banks
“It was a better option, I was told, than a black man facing an all-white jury,” Banks told the Daily News.

It appears that the judge was biased in his decision, judging more on race and lifestyle, rather than on behavior and justice. Brock Turner has lived such a “good” life, has never experienced anything of a serious nature that could possibly prepare him for prison. Why does that matter within a justice system? Brock Turner committed a heinous act and the consequences should be consistent, regardless of race or affluence. The 23-year-old victim asked similar questions in her letter.

“If a first-time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”

As a nation, the U.S. is sending a very clear message to its African-American citizens: You do not matter. This harsh statement is congruent with the message our justice system is currently conveying. When 40 percent of prisons contain African-American citizens, yet only account for 13 percent of the entire U.S. population, when the U.S. accounts for a quarter of global incarceration, yet contains less than five percent of the world’s population, there is obviously a racial disparity in the United States judicial system. Brock Turner is only one example in an ocean of inconsistencies.

[Photo by D. Ross/AP Images]