By Delilah Gray
Lavinia Woodward stabbed her ex-boyfriend with a butter knife and multiple objects in a drug and alcohol fueled rage and tried to cut herself after an argument. According to court documents, Woodward had undergone extreme intensive care for drug dependency, personality disorder and an eating disorder. While the ex-boyfriend left with only three stitches to a leg wound and minor cuts on his fingers, the judge in Woodward’s case, Ian Pringle QC, claimed she won’t be facing jail time because it would jeopardize her “bright future” and that she’s “too smart” to be in prison. The only response I have is, “Are you kidding me?”
Given the injuries Woodward inflicted, the U.K. legal system rates this a Category 2. According to NYTimes and Legislation.gov.uk, Woodward’s actions carry a maximum jail sentence of five years. She originally had the minimum sentence for 10 months, but that was waived for 18 months to see how she’d perform under advanced treatment for her disorders. Woodward is an upper-class white woman going to Oxford, arguably one of the best universities in the world, to become a heart surgeon. One may argue that due to her psychological disorders, she could be taken under the insanity plea. If this were the case, the courts would’ve recognized it if it were that severe. Instead, she just pleaded guilty for stabbing her ex. I think if she’s smart enough to get into Oxford, she’s smart enough to understand that stabbing people is wrong.
The reasoning behind this judge’s decision is not at all justifiable; her punishment should be based on the crime she committed – not on her GPA and academic standing. I believe she shouldn’t get special treatment due to her past record. The case is surrounding the attack, so it should be fully based on that. Safe to say, there’s a large elephant in the room in this case, and its name is Privilege. After doing some research, I discovered that the figures towards race and gender are the complete opposite as they are in the U.S. Based on the racial difference for jail time in the U.S., according to the NAACP, African-Americans alone are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites. Studies show that a quarter of prisoners are ‘non-white’ and that jail sentences for different genders are equal in the U.K. While this case’s blatancy to privilege may be based on a single judge, it’s still a flaw that needs to be worked out within the court system.
I come from a white, upper-middle-class family and even I realize the blatant bias towards white privilege, sexism and elitism in the court of law. This isn’t just a problem in the U.K. courts; our world’s legal system is corrupted on too many forefronts. Wouldn’t it be great if the courts meant it when they said, “We’re all created equal?”
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