8 Things That Will Get You A Longer Jail Sentence Than Brock Turner
Unless you are living under the proverbial rock, you know that former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman, resulting in a six-month prison sentence. The leniency of the sentence has caused widespread outrage — and rightly so. When the woman in the Stanford case responded with an eloquent and heartbreaking impact statement, it made the light sentence from Judge Aaron Persky seem, quite frankly, ludicrous when compared with the emotional and physical pain the woman suffered. In order to draw attention to this bizarre and disappointing turn of events in our country's justice system, I've made a list of eight other crimes that are not sexual assault but still have longer prison sentences than the six months Turner was sentenced to serve. From driving with a suspended license to bootlegging meat products, these offenses often net people more serious sentences than a sexual assault. What a world, right?
Before we continue, I want to make the disclaimer that calling these following crimes "less serious" represents my own beliefs. The following crimes aren't exactly innocent. I don't condone the actions I've listed, but in my mind they pose a much less serious threat to another person's livelihood and well-being. And, compared to the charges Turner was convicted for, the sentences attached to the following crimes make me think that there is definitely something wrong with the way our society — and our justice system — approaches rape culture.
1. Driving with a suspended license
Putting down the car keys sounds obvious if you've had your license suspended, but plenty of people get their license taken away because they don't have the money to pay parking tickets and traffic fines. If they continue to drive with a suspended license, they often face jail time, which, depending on the state, can carry a strict sentence. It's usually up to a year in prison, but in Hawaii, repeat offenders face a minimum of a year.
Research shows that this is the most common crime in Menlo Park, Calif., and it disproportionately affects minorities and those who are less wealthy. Although the law may be well-intentioned, plenty of the people who are convicted of driving with a suspended license simply can't pay the fines their more affluent peers take care of with ease, making the jail time that comes with a conviction seem bizarre when contrasted with Turner's sentence.
2. Drinking and boating
Have you ever walked by a marina after having a few drinks, looked those dope watercraft up and down, and thought to yourself, "Those boats are fly, and I am going to take one out for a spin"? Get off the boat, dude. You don't want to deal with the consequences. Just like drinking and driving, drinking and boating carries heavy fines, as well as a jail sentence of up to a year.
Drinking and operating any kind of vehicle recklessly endangers lives. But in a situation like this, few people would try to shift the blame away from the boat's driver. So why shift it away from Turner?
3. Violation of a court order by a packer or swine contractor concerning packers and stockyards
Did you know that pork bootleggers exist? I didn't either, until I found out that packers and swine contractors (basically, people who pack and distribute meat) face a federal mandatory minimum sentence of six months for disobeying court orders. It's considered an obstruction of justice, so if you're a farmer, meatpacker, or distributor, be honest about your beef.
4. Disobeying a cease and desist order by a registered entity
A cease and desist letter is often used to ask businesses to stop an illegal activity, like slander, harassment, or copyright infringement. These activities may all sound evil, but sometimes, businesses don't even know when they're violating copyright, or the cease and desist letters insist on ridiculous terms. That's why this crime is a strange contender for a six-month minimum prison sentence.
5. Forgery of notary seal
A notary seal is the impression on a piece of paper made by the notary doohickey, and its purpose is to authorize certain official documents, such as things that pertain to property deeds, power of attorney, affidavits, certified passport copies, and so on. Faking a notary seal can land you in prison for a minimum of an entire year.
6. Refusal to operate railroad or telegraph lines
If you own a railroad or telegraph line, and you refuse to actually put those lines to use for either the government or the public, you can end up in prison for a minimum of six months. Granted, this law was passed in 1888, and I don't know of anyone who still uses telegraph lines, but which is worse: sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, or causing a minor hold-up in someone's day because you won't let them use your railroad line?
7. Possessing steroids
That is, steroids that aren't prescribed to you. Steroids, along with other commonly prescribed but highly addictive drugs (think Vicodin and hydrocodone), are Schedule III drugs. In Virginia, where I'm from, possessing Schedule III substances can land you in jail for a year. You'd also be slapped with fines up to $2,500.
8. Two marijuana possession charges
Smoking a joint might be legal in some states, but if you bring your weed-loving self across state lines and don't leave your paraphernalia behind, you'd best be careful. One count of marijuana possession means a short jail sentence, but two weed possession convictions can carry a sentence of up to a year. This example is Virginia-specific, as drug sentences vary from state to state, but in most states where marijuana is illegal, you'll find similar punishments.
And yet Brock Turner...
OK, OK, beating a dead horse, I know.
In any case, Turner is facing more prison time than many people who have committed sexual assault. Just let that sit for a minute.