A “Boys will be boys” attitude is adopted when boys pull pranks on their siblings, when they carry frogs or spiders in their pockets, or when they knock on peoples doors and run away. Pranks can be harmless or a bit dangerous but it is never or can never be called a prank when people are seriously hurt or it becomes criminal.

There seems to be a dangerous narrative that white boys or young men who commit crimes can’t be sentenced to time in prison. The Justice system is lenient (biased) when the perpetrator is white and male. When they are from a wealthy family it’s even more unlikely that these young men will pay for the crimes they committed.

Racism teaches us all that Black and Brown young boys are sent to prison for offences like drug possession without delving into the background of the boys and definitely not looking into their emotional or mental state. There is very rarely a judge that will look at the socio-economic factors of these boys and sentence them to community work and undergo extensive therapy.

It’s safe to say because of our socialization that when a young white boy is standing in court on even heinous charges, he is rarely given the same harsh sentence as young Black boys.

A system of white supremacy kicks in and protects these “monsters” who think they can get away with murder and often do. 

A few examples of punishments that do not fit the crime:

Christopher Belter:

Christopher Belter had pleaded guilty to the sexual assaults of four teens. He faced eight years in prison, but a judge sentenced him to probation instead. The judge felt he would not “do well” in prison. Christopher Belter is just 20 years old.

Brock Turner:

Brock Turner was convicted of sexual assault. He was found guilty of raping an unconscious woman and spent 3 months in jail. The judge felt it would “ruin” his life to spend time in jail. At the time of the offence, Brock Turner was 19 years old.

Cameron Terrell:

Cameron Terrell, arrested on suspicion of murder in an alleged gang killing. He was found not guilty even though he admitted being the driver. He drove his dad’s Mercedes-Benz when the crime happened. Cameron Terrell was 18 years old at the time.

Shane M Piche:

Shane M Piche will be spending no time in jail for being found guilty of raping a 14-year-old girl. He was a school bus driver at the time of the incident. He received probation because the judge said he had no prior arrests and there was one victim, so the sentence was appropriate. Shane M.Piche was 26 years old at the time of the offence.

Ethan Couch:

In 2013, Ethan Couch killed four people while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. He was indicted on four counts of intoxication manslaughter for recklessly driving under the influence. A judge sentenced him to ten years of probation. He later violated his probation but spent only 2 years in jail instead of 10.

Ethan Couch was 16 years old at the time of the offence.

Do these boys learn anything?

What they have learned is that they can commit crimes and parents, the community and the judicial system would look on them kindly.

Would Black and Brown boys be given the same opportunities?

We need only look at how young Black boys are treated to know that once a crime has been committed, there is very little chance of them being given a suspended sentence.

The “Ahmaud Arbery” trial is indicative of the entitlement racist white young men feel they have, to commit crimes and get away with it.

These white criminals are looked upon as naughty little boys who “made mistakes” and need to be forgiven. There is an air of entitlement in the manner in which they traverse through life and racism teaches them that they can do what they want with very little consequences, while victims are strewn in their paths.

The racial disparities within the criminal justice system can no longer be ignored because we are turning these boys into monsters before they reach the age of thirty.

Whether intentional or not, these racial disparities are impossible to ignore as Black suspects routinely get disproportionately sentenced to exponentially more prison time for similar, if not the same, crimes committed.

Same crime, different outcome:

Corey Batey:

Cory Batey, was 19 years old and a  Vanderbilt University football player when he raped an unconscious woman in 2013. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. It was the minimum term possible for the crimes.

What is the difference between Brock Turner above and Corey Batey? Corey Batey is Black! They should both be in prison!

But “boys will be boys,” is the cries we hear, except “boys” aren’t allowed to be boys when they are not white.