In 2002, Brian Banks, a 16-year-old high school football linebacker with no criminal record was accused of a rape he didn't commit.
Banks was set to be charged as an adult, facing the prospect of life in prison, in a trial he was assured would be stacked against him from the start. As he recounted in a 2015 speech, his lawyer told him that he had no chance. "We’re going to walk into this courtroom and we’re going to start selecting this jury that I can guarantee you, this jury will be an all-white jury," he recalled the lawyer saying. "And when you walk into that courtroom as a big black teenager, they will find you guilty."
Banks accepted a deal that lead him to spend more than five years behind bars, and several more on parole before his accuser ultimately came forward and recanted her story. Banks' conviction being overturned in 2012. Since then, he has spent years speaking out about the justice system and the way it betrayed him.
Recently, another case involving rape and a promising athlete turned heads, and stomachs, when Judge Aaron Persky ruled that swimmer Brock Turner would serve just six months in prison after having been found guilty of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster during a frat party at Stanford University.
"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on [Turner]," Judge Persky explained during sentencing. "I think he will not be a danger to others.”
The contrast between the six years the innocent Banks received and the six months the guilty Turner received is glaring, and Banks has not been quiet about it.
After the news of Turner's lenient fate broke, Banks spoke with the Daily News, calling the light sentence "a case of privilege."
"It seems like the judge based his decision on lifestyle," he told the paper. "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 or a non-parent household? Where is the consideration for them when they commit a crime?"
Banks also expressed sympathy for Turner's victim, telling the Daily News she "has been totally ignored. She has to live with her hardship and tragedy for the rest of her life."
"I was kidnapped, taken against my will, placed in a box for five years and two month," he said. "I was denied all human rights. When I screamed and pleaded and begged, it fell on deaf ears. It's a different form of being assaulted and taken advantage of. I know what she is going through."
Read more at the Daily News.