Thirteen years ago, Brian Banks was a promising California high school football player on his way to a full scholarship at USC. Then he was accused of rape, told the jury would never believe him, pressured to plead guilty, and sentenced to six years. The woman who claimed he raped her later recanted her statement, and he was declared innocent after wrongfully spending five years in prison with five years of parole. Brock Turner, meanwhile, is a 20-year-old Stanford student whom two eyewitnesses saw raping an unconscious girl. He was only sentenced to six months in county jail as punishment.
As you can imagine, Banks—who, it should be mentioned, is black—isn't happy about this.
Said Banks to the Daily News:
I would say it's a case of privilege. It seems like the judge based his decision on lifestyle. He's lived such a good life and has never experienced anything serious in his life that would prepare him for prison. He was sheltered so much he wouldn't be able to survive prison. What about the kid who has nothing, he struggles to eat, struggles to get a fair education? What about the kid who has no choice who he is born to and has drug-addicted parents or a non-parent household? Where is the consideration for them when they commit a crime?
He later added, "You know a man is guilty, so why aren't we unleashing half of the punishment that was unleashed on Brian Banks when he was innocent and there was no evidence? They gave me six years. They gave him six months." (Emphasis ours.) Damn. No way to put it more clearly than that.
Banks said that the female victim here "has been totally ignored. She has to live with her hardship and tragedy for the rest of her life." He continued, using a metaphor some may not like, but that's a right you get when you're falsely imprisoned:
I wasn't physically raped, but I was raped in a sense of my freedom. I was kidnapped, taken against my will, placed in a box for five years and two months. I was denied all human rights. When I screamed and pleaded and begged, it fell on deaf ears. It's a different form of being assaulted and taken advantage of. I know what she is going through.
It's not like there's a real question here about the disparity in the sentences. Beyond the society-wide difference in sentencing for white vs black men, the judge explicitly said that when it came to Brock (unlike, say, a poor kid who the judge saw as having no potential anyway), quote, "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him." That's why he gave him six months. That's why everyone's angry. That's why this story, out of many, is breaking through.