For me it was just another post I wouldn’t have expected to get more than my usual average of 4-5K shares. As it turns out, I was in for a surprise. In less than three days, it was shared over 700,000 times and had reached over 50 million people.
I found myself giving out perpetual explanations to a minority of people who were skeptical of the info. There were also a few other people who did believe it but were cherry-picking the nitty gritty details, and as a result of that missed the whole point.
So I decided to put everything together here in one article for that minority group, and explain the two cases—and the point I was trying to make in the meme.
Lee Carroll Brooker vs Brock Turner: Two Cases That Illustrates The Funny Joke Called “The Justice System”
Lee Carroll Brooker is an old disabled veteran in his seventies who is suffering from chronic pain, according to the New York Times (references all below). He was arrested in July 2011 for growing three dozen marijuana plants for his own medicinal use, and was given a life sentence without parole.
The reason being: He committed armed robberies over two decades ago, crimes for which he had already gone to prison and served full sentences.
The marijuana incident happened two decades later after those crimes.
Whatever his intentions were—or whichever way our opinions sway in regards to whether he really was genuine when he said they were for medicinal use, or whether he had others plans for them—fact of the matter remains that we don’t know. We can only speculate. What we do know, however, is that they were caught on him at home… not on the streets selling them or dealing them to anyone—but at home. That’s the key component: at home.
In fact, the police officer who caught him with the weed didn’t even go there looking for weed, nor did he have a search warrant. He simply visited Brooker’s house looking for stolen bicycles when he came across the weed.
The plants were weighed along with unusable parts like vines and stalks (these are nonpsychoactive.) And this is a very important fact to take note of, because had they not done that, the yielded total would not have been enough to send him to prison for life. The whole thing would then have been put down as a “misdemeanour” with 1 year in prison. But they didn’t, and because it surpassed the 2.2 lb that the state allowed, being in possession of weed was deemed as Lee’s third criminal offense.
To further illustrate just how harsh his sentence was, even Alabama’s chief justice, Roy Moore, was quoted as saying:
“If the court could sentence you to a term that is less than life without parole, I would. However, the law is very specific … there is no discretion.”
“I believe Brooker’s sentence is excessive and unjustified. A trial court should have the discretion to impose a less severe sentence than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Moore added. “I urge the legislature to revisit that statutory sentencing scheme to determine whether it serves an appropriate purpose.” – Alabama’s chief justice, Roy Moore
We could argue about whether Lee (considering that he committed robbery crimes in the past, not the kind of act anyone has sympathy for) is a human worthy of our sympathy or not, whether his sentence was harsh or not, whether the inevitable fact that he will meet his fate in prison for growing weed is poetic justice or not, but that’s all not the point I wanted to make.
The point that I wanted to make was this:
If the books couldn’t be bent slightly in favor of a vet —someone who (metaphorically-speaking) his country owes some sort of a thanks to for the services he did— just because we believe the law is above everyone… then in what way exactly did we lose focus of all that “the law is the law, sorry, no empathy here” philosophy when we sentenced a rapist not to prison but to a county jail for just 6 months (which could play out to be 3 months) for a rape crime?
Some try to argue this point by saying both crimes occurred in different states. Yes, I am aware of that and of the fact that the laws differ from state to state, but I also know for a fact that no matter how much the laws differ from one another, the disparity will not be enough for a rape crime to be treated with such absurd leniency.
When you consider the fact that Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman, and consider the fact that there were eyewitnesses—hell, there are even new reports emerging now that he took photos of her breasts and sent them to his friends—you will then see how this “6 months in a county jail” sentence is anything but justice. It’s a ridicule to one’s intelligence.
That was the point.
To back all that up:
It is detailed in an op-ed by the New York Times which you can read here.
The story is also reflected by The Guradian here.
You can also read an assessment of the draconian sentence Lee got here.
Finally: And for no reason and without commenting why, the Supreme Court denied certiorari for the Lee Carroll Brooker’s case, and you can read about that here, never mind the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unnecessary sentences.