In January 2015, an unconscious woman was raped by Brock Turner, a Stanford University swimmer, behind a dumpster. Two grad students were biking by and caught him in the act. Since then, Turner has been convicted of three counts of sexual assault, for which he faced 14 years in prison.
Turner was sentenced to a mere six months. Six months out of 14 possible years, all because he is an affluent white college student. There are Black children doing longer sentences for marijuana possession, a victimless crime. Judge Aaron Persky was concerned about the “impact” that a longer sentence would have on Turner. Sadly, Turner was not concerned about the impact that his actions would have on his victim.
In case you were wondering where his mugshot is, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department has his mugshot but will not be releasing it. They have given no explanation. … Because, affluent white male privilege, that’s why! Instead, we are bombarded with images of a young man’s smiling yearbook photo.
Jezebel describes the situation succinctly: “The images paint a sympathetic portrait of Turner who, by all accounts, should be deeply unsympathetic; a man who, according to his victim, shows no signs of repentance, who instead blamed his actions (attempting to rape an unconscious woman) on hook-up culture and alcohol.”
They go on to explain the importance of the mugshot: “It effectively tells us, in a single frame, what exactly we need to know about a person: in this case, it would say that Turner is a felon, that he is a criminal. But stories of Turner illustrated with school portraits resist the visual classification of him as a criminal body; in effect, the absence of a mugshot preserves his promising reputation.”
Here are nine tweets that get this case right even though Judge Persky chose not to: