The backlash from the six-month jail sentence handed to Brock Turner in the Stanford Rape case has inspired California lawmakers to close the loophole that allowed a judge to be so lenient. On Monday, the California Assembly unanimously passed legislation which outlines the prison sentence needed for anyone who is convicted of sexually assaulting someone who is unconscious.
In Brock Turner’s case earlier this year, the former Stanford University swimmer was found guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault after he was found raping a young woman at a fraternity party after she became intoxicated and fell unconscious. In June, Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky gave him the infamously lenient six-month jail sentence with three years probation even though prosecutors had sought a six-year prison sentence.
The California legislation about the prison term for convicted rapists was passed on a vote of 66-0 and according to Reuters the bill will now have to be approved by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. If made law, a judge would no longer be able to use their discretion in sentencing rape convicts and under it, Brock Turner would have instead been given a minimum of three years in jail. The governor has yet to indicate if he will be signing the bill into law.
The sentence which Judge Persky handed to Brock Turner has also brought him to national attention and has made him the subject the a recall effort to remove him from the judge’s bench completely. Feminists are at the forefront of that movement, seeking justice for the victim of the Stanford rape case – a deed they initially sought to accomplish by getting the judge’s decision overturned. That particular pursuit did not provide the desired results, but the effort to have the judge recalled is still very much active.
In fact, the public stance against Judge Aaron Persky has escalated to the point where he has requested to change from presiding over criminal cases to only civil cases. It is a move that will take place on September 6. Nonetheless, those pushing for his recall say that this has not deterred them, being that Persky could be returned to the criminal court at some point. Most of the judges in the California district rotate about once a year. Stanford law professor Michele Dauber is an active critic of the judge and says that his ruling on the Stanford Rape case proves his bias and it is one that voters need to be aware of. The petition to recall Persky has reached over 1 million signatures.
California legislators pass harsher rape laws following the Brock Turner sentence pic.twitter.com/nz48sBBcEt— Mic (@mic) August 30, 2016
Democratic Assemblyman Bill Dodd from Napa is one of the authors of the new bill about the mandatory jail sentence for those convicted of sexual assault and wrote an impassioned statement about why such a decision is necessary.
“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.”
As the current California law stands, a prison sentence for rape is imposed when during the course of the crime force is used. The new legislation corrects this loophole though and gives a mandatory prison sentence even in cases where the victim is unconscious or intoxicated and force is not something that the perpetrator has to use.
California Lawmakers Approve Mandatory Sentencing for Rape https://t.co/a8Aru9ND9C— NPR (@NPR) August 30, 2016
Brock Turner’s sentencing issues gained more outrage recently after it was announced that he will not even be serving out the full pitifully short six-month prison term but instead, NPR reports that Turner will be released from jail on Friday. It has only been three months since he was sent to jail for the rape. Turner had been convicted of several charges – assault with intent to commit rape, penetration of an intoxicated person, as well as penetration of an unconscious person for the January 2015 attack.
The case has served to highlight the growing battle against sexual assault on college campuses.
[Photo by D. Ross Cameron/AP Images]