California lawmakers have passed an extremely important bill making prison time mandatory for convicted rapists
Brock Turner is getting out of jail on Friday. Three months earlier than his already-too-short six months sentence.
Turner, a former swimmer for Stanford University, was convicted after he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a frat party. He was only sentenced to six months in prison as the judge claimed a longer sentence would harm Turner. That’s right — he wasn’t worried about the survivor, but about Turner and his athletic career.
The sentencing became national news after the survivor released an incredibly powerful statement about our justice system’s extreme mishandling of rape cases. Then Brock Turner’s father attempted to follow up with an incredibly uncaring, privileged, and victim-blaming response that the internet tore apart.
Following the huge outcry after this injustice, Judge Aaron Persky, who made the decision to only sentence Turner to six months, will no longer hear criminal cases. And we all had to painfully remember, too, that Brock Turner still saw the inside of a jail cell for longer than most rapists — many of whom, despicably, are excused with probation.
But a California bill directly motivated by the Stanford rape trial is trying to change that.
The bill, which lawmakers passed yesterday, closes the loophole that allowed judges to only sentence perpetrators of “violent rape” to jail time — meaning that cases in which victims were unconscious or unable to give consent often ended with rapists only getting probation. If this bill becomes law, then offenders who rape an unconscious person will have mandatory jail sentences.
The Assembly members advocating for the bill were especially thinking about rape on college campuses. In a statement, Assemblyman Bill Dodd said:
“Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that… Letting felons convicted of such crimes get off with probation discourages other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal.”
The bill was passed unanimously, and it is kind of unbelievable that it took so long for this to happen.
Assemblyman Evan Low directly referenced Judge Persky and Brock Turner in another statement:
“Rape is rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist… Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion.”
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen thanked Emily Doe, the pseudonym for the survivor who wrote the statement following Brock Turner’s pathetic sentencing:
“Mostly, we thank Emily Doe for her courageous letter… It gave all of us the inspiration to make sure the next Brock Turner either leaves the next Emily Doe alone, or the next Brock Turner goes to prison.”
In order to become law, the bill must be signed by California governor Jerry Brown. Women all over the world thank you, Emily Doe, for so powerfully and critically bringing attention to an injustice that had stayed quiet for too long.