What Flavor Is Your Justice?
It comes in “male” or “female,” according to a piece by Constantino Diaz-Duranon on The Daily Beast:
Alan Jepsen was playing videogames at his home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, when the cops came knocking on his door. He was handcuffed in front of his sister and thrown in jail. In the words of his attorney, Jeffrey Purnell, “This child, this 17-year-old high-school kid, had to spend a week in jail–they locked him up and they put him in jail with grown-ups.”
His crime: Having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. And, perhaps, being a boy.
“These are kids,” said Purnell. “It’s ridiculous. Lawmakers criminalize common behavior among children, and it’s frustrating, really.”
The day after Alan’s arrest, Sheboygan authorities arrested Norma Guthrie, also 17, for having sex with her 14-year-old boyfriend. Norma, however, did not have to spend a single day in jail. She was released immediately, on signature bond, while Alan was held on a $1,000 cash bond, which his family could not afford. Sheboygan County Assistant District Attorney Jim Haasch is handling both cases.
The disparity in the punishment of these 17-year-olds, both accused of having sex with the 14-year-olds they were dating, goes much deeper. Haasch charged Alan with a Class C felony, which, according to court records obtained by The Daily Beast, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Norma, on the other hand, was charged only with a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail.
The cases caught the attention of the local press, generating a heated debate over whether Alan is being given harsher treatment simply because he is a boy. “After all,” said Purnell, “this isn’t one district attorney in Tennessee and one in New York deciding how to charge these cases. This wasn’t even one district attorney in one county in Wisconsin and another county in Wisconsin. No, this was the same guy who charged these two cases.”
The district attorney’s office refused to comment, but experts say it would not be far-fetched to assume that Alan has been the victim of bias.
Furthermore, teenagers having consensual sex with other teenagers should not be prosecuted. In a lot of states, even Romeo would be a “sex offender” today (since he was thought to be 16 and Juliet 13 when they started seeing each other).