Status and race in the Stanford rape case: Why Brock Turner’s mug shot matters

Valid observations and commentary:

The fact that it took authorities 16 months and much prodding to release a booking photo from the Stanford sexual assault case – even after Turner was convicted – is enough to raise questions on its own given the seriousness of his crimes.

In a country where racial and socioeconomic disparity are so well-documented and pervasive, particularly within the criminal justice system, Turner’s case got many citizens wondering: Would the ex-Stanford swimmer’s sentence have been different if he wasn’t white?

A report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee by The Sentencing Project in 2013 showed that African-American males are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white males in the U.S., and 2.5 times more likely than Hispanic males.

In California, where Turner was sentenced, the ratio of black people to white people in prison was 8.8 to 1 as of 2014.

While every criminal case is different, there are plenty of rulings involving black students to contrast Turner’s against – like the case of Corey Batey, a 19-year-old Vanderbilt University football star who was also convicted on three felony counts of sexual assault.

15 to 25 years for black offender

In April, a Tennessee judge ordered Batey to serve minimum sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison – “3,000 per cent longer than what Brock Turner was given for a comparable crime,” Shaun King noted in The New York Daily News.

The parallels between these cases in the wake of Turner’s sentencing hasn’t gone unnoticed. Nearly 200,000 people have now shared the Facebook image contrasting these felons below:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FOfficialMiseeHarris%2Fposts%2F1066565476745237%3A0&width=460&show_text=true&appId=857270271060031&height=480

Many writers and academics are now saying that, at best, the fact Turner’s mug shot was withheld is illustrative of the racial disparities within America’s criminal justice system.

At worst, choosing to show images of him swimming, smiling and looking every bit the all-American athlete could influence public perception to the point that his conviction is called into question.

Source: Status and race in the Stanford rape case: Why Brock Turner’s mug shot matters – Trending – CBC News

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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