Brock Turner, Oscar Pistorius: how white privilege works.

I sometimes examine white privilege in my crim justice writings, and I’m doing so in a memoir I’m currently working on.  What’s interesting about Brock Turner, is that they may’ve been given light sentences because they were white and outstanding athletes.

They are athletes in cultures (America and South Africa) where athleticism is prized. In such cultures super athletes, for sure, are treated leniently by their justice systems because of it.

I’ve written about several times: here re athletes who’ve overcome birth defects, here re Pistorius’ psychopathic tendencies, and here re Pistorius re aspects of his sentencing.

Booking shot of fair 20-ish Brock Turner.in white hoodie.

Brock Turner. Like Oscar Pistorius? CrCmns

Brock Turner—once a star swimmer at Stanford— was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old, unconscious woman in 2015.S

Defense attorneys helped murderer Oscar Pistorius appear “Broken” and rapist Brock Turner describe his “Brokenness” –a common ploy that allows white privileged males to win lenient sentences. 
How the attorneys did this was laid out in an article a year ago. It bears republishing, which I’ve done here with slight condensing.

How Brock Turner, Oscar Pistorius’ defense teams tried to elicit sympathy for their clients.

 

Oscar Pistorius at his pre sentencing hearing 3 yrs ago. AFP
 
Rebecca Sullivan wrote this article in her capacity as an AFP news reporter.
 

Oscar Pistorius hobbles around,  a “broken man.

 

“Pistorius’ defense team have tried to elicit sympathy from the judge [during the sentencing trial] by painting their client as a man who deserves leniency…

Pistorius’ defense lawyer asked his client to remove his prostheses and show the judge how difficult it is for him to walk unassisted.

Wearing sportswear emblazoned with the logos of his former sponsor Nike, Pistorius was unsteady at times, holding onto wooden desks and helped by a
woman at one point. He then returned to a bench where he sat alone, head bowed, and wiped away tears. The demonstration drew gasps from some
onlookers in the courtroom.

Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool Photo via AP
Oscar Pistorius walking w/o prostheses. AP
 
Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool Photo via AP
Oscar Pistorius walking w/o prostheses. AP

Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court as he listens to testimony inside the dock. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/AFP
Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court as he listens to testimony. AFP

“I don’t want to overplay disability,” his lawyer Barry Roux said, ‘but the time has come that we must just look [at Pistorius] with different eyes.’

…[D]efense psychologist Dr Jonathan Scholtz argued time in prison “would not be psychologically or socially constructive” and that Pistorius was not a threat to society.

“One would describe him as broken. In my opinion his current condition warrants hospitalisation,” Dr Scholtz said.

 “Since 2013, he becomes traumatised when he hears the sound of gunfire He never wants to touch a firearm again.”

Rapist Brock Turner describes himself the same way.

“Broken” is also how convicted rapist Brock Turner described himself, after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman at Stanford University in 2015.

“My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this. I am a changed person,” Turner wrote in a statement submitted to a Californian court.

Former Stanford student Brock Turner appears in a California courtroom. Picture: Karl Mondon/San Jose Mercury News via AP
Brock Turner in court. Like Oscar Pistorius?   S J Mercury News/AP

He blamed alcohol, college party culture and “sexual promiscuity” for what happened that night, and mourned the loss of his reputation.

“The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever. I can never go back to being the person I was before that day,” he wrote.

“I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life.

“I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunity, my reputation and most of all, my life.”

Both Turner and Pistorius have refused to take responsibility for their actions, never apologized…

Lorraine Finlay from Murdoch University’s School of Law says this tactic in common during sentencing.

“They focus on the defender and his personal attributes. With Turner it was the fact he was an elite swimmer and with Pistorius that he was a Paralympian,” she told news.com.au.”

A few more words about The People v Brock Turner.

The prosecutor argued that Turner should spend six years in prison. The judge ruled he should be jailed for six months. Jailers released him after 3 months for “good behavior.**”

Because of the outrage the sentence stirred, a new California law calls for a mandatory minimum 3-year prison sentence for sexual assault of an unconscious or intoxicated person.

Your thoughts? 

___
**
Like most offenders in California sentenced to county jail, Turner, who turned 21 while behind bars, was released under a law that gives inmates credit for time served.
He must register as a sex offender for life, re-registering every 90 days.Turner’s picture, conviction information and address will be publicly available on state sex offender registries, wherever he lives.
To further the stigmatization:
Anyone living within 1,250 feet of Turner’s address will be notified with a postcard. And he will not be allowed to live within 1,000 feet of schools or playgrounds.
 
 
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