Back in 2002, when high school football star Brian Banks was just 16, he was accused of raping a woman and charged as an adult in court. He was later sentenced to six years in prison and served more than five of those years before the woman who accused him of rape revealed that he hadn’t actually committed the crime. Banks was released from jail in 2012 after his conviction was overturned, and while he has since landed a job working in the NFL’s Los Angeles office, Banks lost five years of his freedom due to the wrongful accusation made against him. He also missed out on the chance to attend USC to play football and saw his NFL dreams get cut short due to his circumstances.
On Monday, Banks spoke with the New York Daily News about the recent rape case involving 20-year-old Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. Like Banks, Turner was found guilty on three felony charges after sexually assaulting a woman in 2015. But unlike Banks, Turner was given just six months in jail—and possibly three months with good behavior—as a result of what he did. It has caused a lot of outrage this week, and Turner’s father made things significantly worse by penning a letter to the judge in his son's case that suggested that Turner shouldn’t be forced to serve a significant jail sentence because it would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of 20 plus years of life.” While speaking with the Daily News about Turner's sentence, Banks called it "a case of privilege."
“It seems like the judge based his decision on lifestyle," Banks said. "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 of a non-parent household? Where is the consideration for them when they commit a crime?”
Banks 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.”
Banks also addressed the victim in the case by saying that he feels she “has been totally ignored.” And he spoke about the hardships Turner will avoid by only serving a six-month jail sentence.
“I was kidnapped, taken against my will, placed in a box for five years and two months,” said Banks, who now serves as a board member for the California Innocence Project, the organization that helped him regain his freedom. “I was denied all human rights. When I screamed and pleaded and begged, it fell on deaf ears.”
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