A (Very Partial) Defense of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Danny Masterson was convicted earlier this year of drugging and raping two women in 2003. Similar, truthful allegations have been made against the former That ’70s Show star by numerous other women. These women claim that after coming forward in 2017, Masterson’s allies in the Church of Scientology allegedly tormented them, stalked them, harassed them online, and in one instance poisoned their dogs.

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Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Therefore, when a judge gave the convicted rapist a 30-year prison term last week, some solace came to Masterson’s victims. The serial sex offender would not only face consequences, but extremely severe ones after twenty years of freedom.

She had received letters pleading for compassion from several of Masterson’s famous pals, including his former castmates Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, before Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo handed down her punishment. Many of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’s former supporters went ballistic last Friday when these letters were made widely known.

I think there are both valid and wrong reasons for the tremendous outrage directed towards Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.

Both in their begs for mercy and later faux-apology for hurting Masterson’s victims, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis adamantly decline to admit that their pal was responsible for sexual assault. Instead, at times it appears like they are implicitly endorsing his innocence.

Masterson “demonstrates grace and empathy in every situation,” according to Kunis, while Kutcher claims the convicted rapist “always treated people with decency, equality, and generosity.” Of course, it cannot reasonably be the case that a man who drugs and rapes women always acts with grace or with respect toward others.

Meanwhile, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis apologetically refrained from confirming Masterson’s culpability in their apology video. The pair avoided stating that they do not challenge the veracity of the victim’s claims by claiming that they did not mean to contest “the legitimacy of the judicial system” or the “validity of the jury’s ruling.”

This failure to support the truthfulness of the facts-based charges against Masterson was undoubtedly deliberate. The legal team for their pal, who plans to appeal his conviction, has been cooperating with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are suggesting that their friend could not have committed the alleged crimes against his victims. This attitude is disrespectful and illiterate. Adults in 2023 should be aware that not every interaction or relationship with a rapist will reveal their propensity for sexual violence.

A man could be a loyal friend and a violent sexual predator at the same time. If a jury judged your friend guilty of sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt, you should give it greater weight when determining his guilt than, say, his support for 9/11 first responders.

And if you consider yourself to be a champion for victims of sexual assault, as both Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis do, you ought to confirm the truth of claims of rape before speaking out in public about a high-profile case.

Therefore, there were many valid grounds to be indignant against Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. But I believe there was another one that was flawed.

Even if some social media users disagreed with the specifics of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’ letters of leniency, others had a problem with the fact that they opposed the “harsh sentencing” of a convicted rapist. And yet, opposing extraordinarily lengthy prison terms for rapists and caring about the victims of sexual abuse are not inherently incompatible positions.

Today, more people live in prison in the United States than in any comparable country in Europe. A portion of this gap can be attributed to America’s extraordinarily high homicide rate. The rest is mostly a result of our country’s harsh sentencing laws.

The average sentence for homicide in the United States between 1980 and 2000 was more than twice as lengthy as it was in the Netherlands or Sweden, according to research from the Council on Criminal Justice. In comparison to either of those European nations, the average sentence for rape that was issued in the U.S. was five times longer.

These differences are somewhat less pronounced but still present when actual time served is considered rather than the length of the original sentence.

It is feasible for someone to hold the opposing views that rape is a horrendous crime that is not sufficiently punished and that America shouldn’t sentence violent offenders to considerably longer jail terms than social-democratic countries.

In light of the fact that more than half of the 1,047,000 inmates in American state jails were convicted of violent crimes, rejecting the latter viewpoint would mean advocating for the country’s unusually high prison population.

Incarcerating a criminal can be used to punish the offender on behalf of people who were hurt by their actions, dissuade others from committing similar crimes, and keep a lawbreaker from reoffending while they undergo rehabilitation.

This third purpose, in my opinion, is improper. It is morally required, in my opinion, to reduce needless suffering. Insofar as it lessens overall human suffering by deterring others from harming others or preventing an unrehabilitated criminal from reoffending, imposing the misery of incarceration on offenders is justified.

Long sentences, however, are neither necessary for deterrence nor very successful at it. According to criminological research, lengthening sentences does not make crimes go down. The certainty of capture, not the severity of punishment, is what counts for deterrence. Intuitively, this makes sense.

An individual is expected to think about their chances of escape punishment before committing a crime. Before committing a break-in, a thief frequently scans the area for witnesses or nearby law enforcement.

It would be uncommon for such a person to Google their state’s criminal laws to discover whether their intended course of conduct carries a ten- or twenty-year sentence, and then conclude, Well, because it will only cost me a decade of my life instead of two, I’m going to go with this.

Therefore, if we are interested in preventing rape, we should concentrate on increasing the likelihood of an arrest by putting an end to the scandalous epidemic of untested rape kits, allocating more funds to the investigation of sexual violence, and bolstering the Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis assistance program to make it possible for anyone who wants to come forward to do so.

A lengthy prison term’s other legal purpose is to render an individual unable. Even though incarcerating rapists for very long lengths of time does not stop others from committing crimes identical to theirs, it does prevent them from posing a threat to the public for an extended period of time.

The vast majority of offenders, however, age out of crime, according to a significant body of research. Homicide and drug offense arrest rates peak at 19, whereas forcible rape arrest rates peak at 18. According to arrest histories, the average criminal career lasts between five and ten years. People tend to start obeying the law once their prefrontal cortex is fully formed, they take on greater familial duties, or they lose their youthful vigor.

Long prison terms are neither essential nor sufficient to help offenders change their ways. Sweden has among of the world’s most forgiving sentencing laws. In Sweden, an average homicide conviction resulted in a sentence of slightly more than four years in jail, whereas an average rape conviction resulted in a sentence of just one year.

And yet, compared to the US, Sweden has a far lower recidivism rate. In Sweden, only approximately 34% of prisoners released after two years commit another crime; in the US, nearly 50% of prisoners released after two years commit another crime.

This is probably indicative of how horrifying American incarceration is. American jails are frequently stuffy and warm. The food is frequently unhealthy, inadequate, and occasionally harmful. Most importantly, the facilities frequently fall short in safeguarding their residents against assault, rape, and murder.

Up to 80,000 prisoners in the United States are raped annually. Despite their proven ability to lower recidivism, many jails do not provide educational opportunities for those who are incarcerated. Many prisoners become less capable of making meaningful contributions to society as a result of their imprisonment because they are denied opportunities for self-improvement and are constantly threatened with physical damage.

Because of these factors, it is completely feasible to reduce the threat of sexual assault to Americans and harmonize sentencing guidelines with those in Europe. We may prevent more perpetrators if we vigorously investigated rape. And if circumstances in American jails were better, we could rehab inmates faster and more successfully.

Many people think that the severity of the penalty meted out to the perpetrators of sexual assault reveals how concerned our society is for those Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. But if we don’t want America to imprison a disproportionately large proportion of its people, we must reject this idea and look for other ways to show that we all care about the wellbeing of survivors.

I don’t believe it was necessarily bad for Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to lobby a judge to sentence Masterson to fewer than 30 years in jail. On principle, it is acceptable to object to such lengthy prison terms; Anders Brevik, who murdered 77 people, the majority of whom were children, received just a 21-year prison term because Norway decided that this should be the maximum term for any crime.

Additionally, defendants have the right to plead for mercy. And it is OK for you to express your opinion to a judge if you are friends with a defendant and think they are capable of rehabilitation within a short period of time.

It was wrong for Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to approach that mission in the manner they did. However, the process of writing a letter of leniency does not. We will continue to live in a country with a disproportionately high rate of incarceration as long as we view opposition to lengthy prison terms as being indifferent to the pain of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.

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