I have been following this for a while and I have seen a lot of the things people are saying, defending the judge for not sending him to prison which would effect him for the rest of his life, to saying that the punishment was too lenient and favorable to young and affluent white males. What I have noticed though is that everyone from judges, to prosecuting attorneys to just simple criminal justice experts are all admitting that if Brock Turner had served a prison sentence of 6 years, that the effect of being a felon would have adversely effected his entire life. They do not detail how this would effect him, but leave the reader to draw their own conclusions which are obvious to most members of society; he would be unemployable, he would not pass criminal background checks to live in most residences, he would not be able to vote or posses a firearm, he would basically be a 2nd class citizen for the rest of his life--as are most people who are ever convicted to a felony sentence.
So why is this okay? We're all at once basically admitting to each other that our prison system, or more so the effect of society after prison, is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. Is this acceptable to us, why is it only in this one case we let our guard down and admit that prison is more a function to ruin someone's life than to rehabilitate? People want to point out the discrepancy of young black males sentencing compared to Brock's sentencing, but instead of suggesting that the young black males shouldn't have been sentenced to a prison term they seem to be arguing that Brock should be joining them. In the same breath that we're talking about what being a felon would do to Brock Turner, a young affluent white male, we seem to be condoning what it does to young and poor males of every color. People are so quick to point out the racial double standard, but then it seems like what they're really saying is, "Well if we're going to torture these young men, we should torture this young man as well." Yet we're still just tacitly approving torture in the end. Equal opportunity oppression?
I think this is a predictable response in society since we're still very much all for "An eye for an eye", and a lot of people don't think that there's anything wrong with the prison system, but that's exactly what makes this case so interesting. People who would usually be vouching for the criminal justice system are basically flat out admitting that the same justice system they work for would probably have been an excessive punishment! Then simultaneously, the people who usually insist that no crime is worth cruel and unusual punishment, seem to forget all about that in the face of their rage and ire and want to see Brock get the same cruel and unusual treatment, suggesting they hope he's sexually assault in prison himself for example.
I think I can understand people's positions on wishing Brock had received harsher punishment though. When all these other people receive such harsher sentences why should he get so much leniency? Of course that just opens up implications about class and race, but I think that really ignores the real question and the real concern... Why are we so accepting of such harsh treatment? It's like resenting someone because they they didn't get chewed up and spit out by the justice system as badly as the next guy. It's as if we shoved two men in a barrel full of knives and bricks and rolled them down a hill, and when one came out with only a few broken bones and lacerations we contend, "Hey why wasn't he impaled and cut to shreds like the other guy?"
I honestly think this show cases that society isn't truly interested in justice. We're still passing off vengeance as punishment and retribution as retaliation, and that's the real reason we want to see Brock receive the harshest punishment possible. When they point out the double standards of young black men serving decade long sentences for drug possession, they're not actually advocating for those young black men, they are advocating for excessive punishment against a young and privileged white man. It's understandable in the face of such a discrepancy to feel like he's "getting off easy", but even the victim herself said she would have approved probation if Brock had actually accepted his guilt and apologized.
I think it's obvious in this case what the counter-argument is... That his crime is so vile and disgusting that we should have little sympathy for what happens to him and we should throw the book at him, that he deserves to have the rest of his life ruined because of the life long trauma he cased to the victim, so on and so forth. I understand and appreciate that position, but once again it seems people will only take this position to retaliate. If you asked the same person what they thought about 90% of the other felony convictions in this country, do you think they would approve? Young men being thrown into prison for much longer than 6 years at times, coming out to face the same consequences the judge was so worried about young Brock facing, and what did they do? Sold some drugs! So when you compare his sentencing and say that Brock Turner deserves to have his life ruined as a felon for raping this woman, then aren't you also complying with how this system ruins the lives of other young men who unquestionably don't deserve it?
When I think about all of this, I like to imagine that Judge Pensky saw the same thing happening as I did. I think it's unfortunate that his bias probably wouldn't have allowed him to see a young black male in the same "good kid" light as he saw Brock Turner, but in the end I think the judge saw that sentencing a young man to a felony sentence to have that loom over his head would only be feeding the monster. It's not as if Turner's life is going to be all roses now, as a registered sex offender he will face many of the same challenges as a convicted felon. I just have to question whether his consideration of this really had anything to do with not wanting to perpetuate the prison industrial complex, or if he was simply acting on racial and cultural biases, seeing Brock as "good kid" that probably wouldn't re-offend whereas anyone of color or that didn't attend Stanford probably wouldn't have received the same benefit of the doubt.
Still though at the end of the day, it doesn't seem like we're so much concerned with justice as much as we're concerned with punishment and I think that's a pretty short and slippery slope down the path towards vengeance and retaliation. We know the justice system is wrong, that it results in cruel and unusual punishment, and we want to see Brock Turner a victim of this because seeing him spared from it is too offensive of a double standard.