Under pressure from the sentencing judge, the media and the pundits for apparently not showing remorse for his actions, Dharun Ravi issued an apology before he begins his 30-day jail sentence on May 31.
The 20-year-old former Rutgers University student decided to begin his prison sentence despite an ongoing appeal for a longer prison sentence by the prosecution, the statement released by his attorney Steve Altman said. “It’s his decision," Altman was quoted in The Star-Ledger report "He wanted to get it over with."
The sentence also included three years probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 contribution to an organization dedicated to assisting victims of bias crimes.
In the statement, Ravi said he decided to accept and hopefully complete the sentence as soon as possible.”It's the only way I can go on with my life,” he said in the statement. "I accept responsibility for and regret my thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid and childish choices that I made on September 19, 2010 and September 21, 2010," he said. "My behavior and actions, which at no time were motivated by hate, bigotry, prejudice or desire to hurt, humiliate or embarrass anyone, were nonetheless the wrong choices and decisions. I apologize to everyone affected by those choices."
According to news reports, with good behavior, Ravi’s term could be shaved to as little as 20 days.
In a related development, Judge Berman disclosed the more than 100 letters he received after the trial –including from a victim of a racial attack and a South Asian gay rights group – telling him it would be unfair to put Ravi behind bars.
According to The Associated Press, the letters sent to Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman came from a man who was once beaten with a baseball bat in a racially motivated attack; the widow of a Minnesota judge; a group representing lesbian, gay and transgendered people from South Asia, identifying itself as “members of South Asian Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Tran Communities”; a gay member of the Navy; and the father of a woman who committed suicide, among others.
“We would like to point out that gay, lesbian and trans young people are bullied constantly in this country, and there have been many other suicides reported in the press that occurred as a result of bullying, the South Asian LGBT group said in the letter. “ However, we are not aware of any of the bullies in those cases being held responsible in a court of law for those suicides ... We believe that Mr. Ravi would have had a very different experience of the judicial system and the media had he not been the son of immigrants. We do not believe that justice for a gay man can be bought with injustice against an immigrant.”
Before delivering the sentence, Berman held up a thick folder, of the letters he had received and quoted one of them, calling Clementi’s suicide the “pink elephant” in the case.
The case which brought to the forefront gay rights issues and discrepancies in New Jersey’s anti-bullying and hate crime laws, has been dissected by pundits and advocates, addressed by President Barack Obama, debated on by hundreds of bloggers, Twitter users and newspaper commentators. Berman made the letters publicly available, but only after having court staff cross out the last names, addresses of and other identifying information about the writers to maintain their privacy, the AP said.“I learned a lot about bias crimes and bullying through this case,” Louise said in her letter to the judge, according to the AP. “The bullying and bias acts occurred when the legal system and media got involved. Ravi is not to blame for the hardships endured by the gay community nor should he be tied to the whipping post because of it. If Tyler was not gay, this would have been just a prank gone wrong and no one would have rushed to incarcerate.”
While most of the letters asked for leniency, three of the letters called on the judge to give Ravi a stiff penalty, the AP reported. In his letter, Keith from Lincoln Park, N.Y., said, “There is no such thing as ‘it was only a joke.’ There are consequences for everything we do in life.”
Another person, identified as Richard, wrote he was “victimized in a similar situation” 40 years ago as a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley. “I feel the pain to this day,” he wrote. “Please give Dharun Ravi a harsh sentence,” the AP quoted him as saying.
Some of the letters came from students who said they weren’t sure Ravi’s actions were wrong at all. Some, like Amitabha, of Succasunna, N.J., said a prison sentence would be too harsh he wrote: “We have already lost a talented young man, Tyler Clementi, and it will be a double tragedy if Ravi’s life is also ruined by a stiff sentence and if he is forced to leave the country he lived practically all his life.”