Dharun Ravi Released from Jail, Will Not Be Deported for Spying on Gay Roommate


Dharun Ravi

Dharun Ravi, 20, the former Rutgers student convicted of a hate crime for using a web cam to spy on his gay roommate (who then committed suicide), was released Tuesday morning in New Jersey after serving 20 days of his 30-day jail sentence.

On Monday immigration officials announced they would not deport Ravi. Ravi is an Indian citizen but has lived most of his life in America.

Jacob Sullum has written extensively about the trumped-up case, which could have landed Ravi in jail for 10 years, an outcome that nobody seemed to actually want. Based on the response in some quarters that 30 days was a "slap on the wrist" for secretly watching Tyler Clementi kiss another guy, it is clear that people believe that Ravi should be held somewhat accountable for Clementi's subsequent suicide. It's hard to imagine anybody thinking Ravi should get more than a 30-day jail sentence for a five-second spying session had Clementi not killed himself.

Two big myths about the Ravi case still persist, and I've seen them in online comments from people who think Ravi's sentence was too lenient: One, that Ravi recorded Clementi having sex and streamed it live online; and two, that Clementi was in the closet and Ravi outed him. Both of these claims are false. The New York Times is still inaccurately reporting that Ravi used his camera to watch Clementi have sex (though Ravi did seem to intend to do so in his second failed spying attempt).

In any event, you'd think the possibility that Ravi could have served 10 years for this incident due to overzealous prosecutors would prompt hate crime law supporters to realize that sentencing enhancements are a terrible way to encourage social reform, but I've seen nothing to indicate this has happened. Instead, we get analyses of how sincere Ravi's apology was or was not.