By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
On Friday, September 2, the now infamous Brock Turner was released from jail. His release followed his three-month sentence, after sexually assaulting a woman while she was unconscious. Turner was found guilty of three felonies, all related to this sexual assault, yet now we are watching his return to civilization, only three months later. While there has been much debate over Turner’s sentencing, as well as discussions of his privilege as a White male, one thing remains true: Brock Turner is out of jail.
To many, the outcome of this case seemed shocking and unbelievable, but to me, it was just another day in the world of sexual violence advocacy. This is not to say that the outcome of this case didn’t infuriate me, because it did. But, hearing about perpetrators of sexual assault, even violent cases, that go unpunished has become the norm to me. The sad truth about sexual violence is that our legal system does not hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. Even as an advocate, when I see a case go to court, rarely does the perpetrator ever see a day in jail. Why are people who get caught with drugs being punished more than a person who sexually violates another human being? This seems inherently flawed to me yet, it’s the harsh reality for survivors and advocates all over our nation.
It breaks my heart to sit by a survivor who wants her perpetrator brought to justice, to see them behind bars, or even just sweating in court, knowing that it’s very unlikely that any of this will occur. My heart breaks because I know that perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to be sentenced to either jail or prison than perpetrators of other crimes. Statistics show that, out of every 1000 perpetrators of sexual violence, 994 of these people will walk around free (RAINN).* This statistic is downright terrifying. Even more telling: Of every 1000 perpetrators of sexual violence, 63 will be arrested, 13 cases will get referred to prosecutors, and only 6 perpetrators will be incarcerated (RAINN).* 6 out of 1000.
Brock Turner is simply one of the 63 perpetrators who actually got arrested and 1 of the 6 who was incarcerated. But, that’s just it, he’s only one of them. It’s obvious that in the rare circumstance in which perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable for their actions, they typically get a figurative slap on the wrist. Brock Turner was lucky in so many ways--he was lucky that he was white, that he came from a good family, and that he was a well known athlete at a top-notch university. Most of all though, Turner was lucky that he lives in a society where the legal system fails so many of its survivors and victims.
The outcome of the Brock Turner case is not unusual; it’s commonplace, and that’s why we all should be outraged. It’s why we as a nation need to start holding perpetrators accountable for their actions, and pressuring our legal systems to do the same.
https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system (RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and leading authority on sexual violence.)