Judge Aaron Persky recently pissed off a lot of people after he gave a very light sentence to Brock Turner, the former Stanford athlete who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman. Just a few weeks after that incident, Persky sentenced another man– this time, a Latino– for a similar crime. He wasn’t as lenient.
Brock Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault for raping an unconscious woman, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
In 2015, Brock Turner was arrested after two international students found him sexually assaulting a passed out woman behind a dumpster. In March, he was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. Turner has refused to take responsibility for raping an unconscious woman, blaming “party culture” instead.
Judge Persky gave him six months in county jail. People were not happy.
In his decision, Judge Persky said that he chose to give Turner six months in county jail and three years of probation because he didn’t want to further ruin the convicted rapist’s life. The backlash was immediate. A recall campaign to remove Judge Persky from his seat was launched.
Judge Persky recently oversaw the sentencing of a Latino who committed a similar crime. He sentenced him to three years.
On Monday, the Guardian reported that Judge Persky sentenced Raul Ramirez, a 32-year-old immigrant from El Salvador, to three years in prison for sexually assaulting his roommate. Ramirez admitted to his crime and expressed remorse for his actions, two things Brock Turner didn’t do. The three-year sentence was part of a plea deal, and is the mandatory minimum sentence for that type of crime.
The difference in sentencing shows a clear bias.
David Palumbo-Liu, a Stanford Professor, weighs in on #JudgePersky and the bias he has shown on the bench. If you agree…
Posted by Recall Aaron Persky on Tuesday, June 28, 2016
“What’s happened with Mr. Ramirez is standard,” Alexander Cross, a criminal lawyer who was briefly hired by Ramirez’s family, told the Guaradian “The anomaly is the Stanford case.”
To be clear, what both men did is morally reprehensible, and Ramirez’s sentencing isn’t unfair. But what’s truly disturbing and unjust is that Persky went out of his way to protect Brock Turner. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that much like Turner, Persky was a Stanford student athlete.
Sadly, people of color getting the short end of the sentencing stick is very much the norm.
“Whether due to implicit bias or other factors, race still plays a role in sentencing outcomes,” Sentencing Project executive director Marc Mauer, said to the Guardian.
This is a fact. A report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that blacks and Latinos were more likely to receive harsher and longer sentences than their white counterparts. Those same biases have been found in an algorithm used in issuing sentences based on whether a person is likely to commit crime again. When even computers are being low key racists, then maybe it’s time to admit that our criminal justice system is broken.
READ: Trump Says Racism Is Bad After Being Repeatedly Racist
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