MANSFIELD: The End of Wealth Privilege?

In America — as well as much of the rest of the world — great wealth (as well as fame) has always acted as a shield against prosecution for a wide variety of crimes. A truism is, “Rich people don’t go to jail.” That is, until Bill Cosby did the perp walk.

Cosby’s rape convictions are a direct result of the #MeToo Movement, which basically has said, “Enough is a goddamn enough!”

While the movement is still in its infancy, it has nonetheless already had a tremendous impact on the culture of treating women, and yes children too, as sexual commodities to be bought, sold and exploited at will by wealthy and powerful men, and often by some as lowly as a shift manager at a burger joint who assumes he has power over a female since he’s her boss.

But the world and culture are changing right before our very eyes. True, the indictments of Jeffery Epstein and R. Kelly are not going to immediately bring an end to sexual exploitation, but it’s a damn good start. While it’s true that sexual predators are slow learners, if the rich and famous are finally held accountable for their misdeeds, then the average guy — the trusted school teacher, the coach, the man of the cloth, and the auto mechanic — will eventually learn they can no longer act with impunity: there will be serious consequences.

The Epsteins and Kellys of the world have been allowed to act out as monsters without fear of censure or repercussions almost since the beginning of time. This goes all the way back to biblical times, when Old Testament prophets and potentates were allowed to objectify the female body. They could do this because of a sense of entitlement and ownership. Who was going to tell them “No, you can’t do that”? No one, since societies and institutions historically have been patriarchal in construct, and it could be argued that the Catholic Church would not be facing all of the scandals it has had to deal with over the last few decades if it had allowed women into the priesthood.

While all kinds of bullshit arguments have been put forth for not allowing women priests, it’s become increasingly clear the real reason is males want to continue their dominance, and part of that dominance has to do with them sticking their peckers wherever they want: into little boys, little girls — what’s the difference to the predator? As long as their victims are vulnerable and defenseless.

The fact that billionaire Epstein and functional illiterate Kelly are now in the custody of the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t mean the nightmare of abuse is over. Even their convictions and lengthy prison sentences won’t deter all others from engaging in acts similar to the ones that will land these two behind bars for perhaps the rest of their lives — something I don’t agree with, by the way.

I believe the law (and prison sentences) should protect the public from harm. Once these monsters are in their 80s they will no longer be a threat to society, and therefore should be released to live out the rest of their lives among a family that still want them, if any exist.

I know that some people will make the wacky argument that they could still be a threat to women even in their 80s, but these folks are simply being punitive and mean-spirited in their thinking. Locking people up and throwing away the key is a conservative, right-wing position that I want no part of because it’s counterproductive. Sometimes the criminal justice system will find a way to acquit even a guilty individual if it is felt the punishment is too harsh.

By way of example, in the 1970s, New York State enacted draconian laws in response to gun violence. So what happened was, judges routinely found a way to toss out gun possession cases because they felt the punishments didn’t fit the crime. I know this from personal experience.

So while I want sexual predators removed from society to prevent them from inflicting harm, I think that turning our nation’s prisons into old folks’ homes simply because some people are hysterical, and in their own way, just as brutal as the perpetrators of sex crimes is nonsense. When sentences are unfair, it’s usually a person of color that bears the brunt of society’s overreaction.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.

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