By Shaun King, Daily News
Monday, Jun 13, 2016
|How race affects sentencing
When Cory Batey was a 19-year-old standout football player at Vanderbilt, he raped an unconscious woman. The ample evidence, including security cameras showing the unconscious woman being carried into a dorm room and cellphone photos and videos of the sexual assault, was clear — Cory Batey sexually assaulted the woman. In April, a jury found Batey guilty of three felony counts including aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.
He was immediately remanded into custody and must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison.
What Batey did was reprehensible. The judge and jury treated his crime as such.
|What Batey did was reprehensible. Judge Monte Wilkins and the jury treated his crime as such. (JOHN PARTIPILO/AP)|
That's what makes the case of Brock Turner, a 19-year-old standout swimmer at Stanford who raped an unconscious woman, all the more infuriating. As was the case with Batey, ample evidence existed that Turner was guilty. Eyewitnesses actually caught him in the act as he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. A jury agreed and Turner was found guilty of multiple felony rape charges. Turner, though, was given a six-month jail sentence and told he could be released on good behavior in as little as three months. He won't even go to an actual prison, but will remain in the local jail during that time.
One man will spend the entire prime of his life in prison for his crime — the other will be out of jail before the summer heat disappears.
One man is black and the other is white. I won't even ask you to guess which is which. This is America.
The judge in the Turner case, Aaron Persky, who was also a standout athlete in a stuffy, predominantly white sport at Stanford, seemed to see himself in the young man and felt that a long prison sentence for Turner would be an overreach of justice and stated publicly that "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him." Isn't that the point of a prison sentence?
|Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky felt a long prison sentence for Turner would be an overreach of justice. (JASON DOIY/AP)|
|Eyewitnesses actually caught Brock Turner in the act as he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. (AP)|
No such sympathy was given to Batey, who claimed that he, like the victim, was also drunk and could not remember a single moment of the incident.
Such is often the case of crime in America. Black men consistently pay the harshest possible price for crimes they commit. Just off the top, black men are given prison sentences 20% longer than white men for the exact same crimes. Cory Batey's minimum possible prison sentence, though, is actually 3,000% longer than what Brock Turner was given for a comparable crime.
African-Americans and Latinos are three times as likely to have their cars searched by police than whites and are twice as likely to be arrested for drugs over whites — even though studies show whites use and sell drugs at the same or even higher rates than African-Americans.
The argument here is not that Cory Batey should've been given a break and let off in three months like Brock Turner. Instead, the argument is that the racial disparity in sentencing for similar crimes is completely out of hand. America's jails and prisons are overflowing with young black and Latino teenagers who are paying the harshest price possible for their crimes.
|Teenager Kalief Browder spent over three years in Rikers Island because he was suspected of having stolen a book bag. A few months after he was released and the charges were dismissed, he killed himself. (ABC NEWS)|
Teenager Kalief Browder spent over three years in Rikers Island because he was suspected of having stolen a book bag. He was never even charged with a crime and committed suicide months after his release.
Jasmine Richards, a young activist in Pasadena, California, was convicted of "felony lynching" after she stood up for a young stranger she thought was being brutalized by the police and could spend years in prison over it. It is among the most ridiculous, trumped up convictions I've seen in my entire life.
America doesn't have a hard time sending people to prison for years on end. Our country does that well. It's just that the same rules don't seem to apply if you are white and privileged.
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