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Something bothering me about the Brock Turner rape contorversey...

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SagaciousKJB
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#1

Posted 02 September 2016 - 08:30 PM

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.

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GTA_stu
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#2

Posted 02 September 2016 - 10:21 PM

It ultimately comes down to "does the punishment fit the crime?" and I don't think it does. I wouldn't say there's a huge disparity between the sentence he was given and the sentence he (imo) deserves, but I think he has gotten off a bit lightly considering he attempted to rape someone and committed a serious sexual assault. It really should be a couple years in prison at least for such a serious offence. I would say that's fair and not overly punitive. In terms of the impact the sentence will have on his life long term, you know a harsher sentence might have actually worked out better for him. Because the amount of attention the case has received is down to the fact there is a perceived light sentence and lack of justice. If the sentence had been more severe there would be less attention and he probably wouldn't be being discussed in here right now.

 

To your point that people still have a bit of an eye for an eye attitude, I would have to disagree and I certainly don't think that's born out just because people want a harsher punishment in this case. With the exception of capital punishment for murder, which I'd say is a special case (and I'm not trying to start a debate about it) I think most people aren't interested in that sort of like for like punishment. Most people do believe in punishment for certain crimes, but an appropriate and proportionate level of punishment. Which is felt by many to be lacking in this case. Being too severe in seeking out justice can be harmful and cause problems, but likewise so can being too lenient and I think people forget that sometimes.

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Melchior
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#3

Posted 02 September 2016 - 11:44 PM Edited by Melchior, 03 September 2016 - 06:36 AM.

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.

You need to get out of the habit of talking about systems as something that we build and maintain. We have no control over the criminal justice system and if the state was looking at reforms it would not go to referendum, rather it would be discussed in quiet rooms behind locked doors. 

 

I would expect that most people upset about the Turner controversy would agree that spending six years locked in a room is pointless, and that he should be rehabilitated. But it isn't up to us, at all. The state isn't interested in running a productive society, they're interested in maintaining their position above the rest of us.

 

Most people are in prison not for mala in se like rape but for stealing, ie refusing to capitulate to Capitalism and this is the system's first priority.

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Eutyphro
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#4

Posted 04 September 2016 - 11:52 AM Edited by Eutyphro, 04 September 2016 - 01:28 PM.

A similar case is the one of Ethan Couch, who killed 4 people driving drunk, and ended up with only probation because he had 'affluenza', which means that he is such a spoiled c*nt that he is not used to being held responsible for anything. Obviously the US prison system is f*cked up, and when a judge sees someone who comes from the same social class, who could be family, he makes an effort not to have them end up in there, which is the exact opposite of justice, considering lady justice is blind. Anyone disgusted by the senteces Brock Turner and Ethan Couch got is completely justified. But indeed the issues reach very far, from the fact that the prison system is a profit driven modern version of slavery, to the fact that judges and juries are f*cking racist. Probably if the justice system would be reformed to give more useful rehabilitation as punishment Ethan Couch and Brock Turner would've gotten even lower sentences. You can't make the justice system fair without tackling the bias of those who make the sentences.


Majesty Dreamworth
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#5

Posted 08 September 2016 - 10:54 PM Edited by Majesty Dreamworth, 08 September 2016 - 11:01 PM.

What bothers me more is that everyone is offering their virtual hand to lift Brock Turner up to the gallows, but no to lift "Emily Doe" up from behind the dumpster. I haven't seen a single post, screen cap, or essay in my facebook or twitter feeds trying to spread initiatives to help and support Doe. You want to run down a criminal? Fine. Just don't forget that the important person here is the one he harmed.

People aren't upset because of a sense of genuine indignation. They're upset because they love to be upset. It's part of our culture of entertainment. They follow Brock Turner for the same reason they followed the OJ case, the same reason they followed Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony: the dopamine surges underneath the anger as they get to pretend they're a part of their own People V Generic Antagonist legal thriller.

They can pretend they're the new movement of concerned citizens trying to change things, but you don't get things done by sitting on your couch sharing each others' statuses. They're a sorry bastardization of the real social movers of history.

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RogerWho
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#6

Posted 12 September 2016 - 02:04 AM Edited by RogerWho, 12 September 2016 - 02:06 AM.

People rarely think about what purpose punishment even serves in the first place.

 

What is the point of the whole justice system? If there's a victim, the first priority should be to reimburse the victim, if possible. Second should be to rehabilitate the felon so they don't want/need to commit crimes again. Third would be to deter more people from committing crimes.

 

While in reality, the public perception generally boils down to "X made someone suffer, let's make X suffer back". Revenge, anger. That's got nothing to do with justice.

 

I suppose it's very convenient too. We love to think about ourselves that we are perfect. Of course we know it's not true and that's distressing to some. But hey, finally there's someone who is worse; someone to look down to and to spit on; finally a chance to throw the first stone because no matter how bad we are, we are not criminals, right? Finally a chance to judge someone instead of being judged. Very convenient.

 

And yea, indeed the victims are often forgotten. Well unless it's the opposite case when they are overemphasized and then we get into the stoning mindset again.

 

This is just a generalization, I'm not familiar with the case. But I see stuff like that every time when there's some high profile justice case.

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