Brock Turner, the infamous former Stanford University swimmer, is expected to be released from jail on Friday. The 21-year-old became the subject of national condemnation and disbelief when he was sentenced to just six months in jail after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a campus party in January, 2015. Angry followers of the Brock Turner case mustered even more outrage when they realized that the convicted sex offender’s sentence would likely be shortened well beyond the six months he was sentenced to when “good behavior” was factored in.
Brock Turner detractors were correct: if Turner is released later today as expected, he will have served only three months in jail after being convicted of three felony charges back in March. The felony charges that Brock Turner was successfully tried and convicted of were assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person.
As CNN reports, prosecutors in the sexual assault case of Brock Turner were seeking a much harsher sentence against the convicted sex offender. Indeed, Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci wanted to see Turner sentenced to six years in a California state prison. In making her sentencing recommendation in the Brock Turner case, the DA cited the convicted felon’s “lack of remorse, plus the fact that the woman was especially vulnerable in her unconscious state.”
Judge Aaron Persky, however, opted to follow the recommendations of both Brock Turner’s defense lawyers and the California probation department. They both felt that a short stint in county lockup and probation would be a sufficient punishment for the act of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
According to Persky, Brock Turner did show “sincere remorse” for his crimes and because he had been drinking before the sexual assault, his judgement was “impaired.”
After Brock Turner was sentenced, the public outrage at a sentence that many felt was too lenient for the crimes he was convicted of committing reached a fever pitch. And many members of the public didn’t just blame Brock Turner; millions turned their ire on Judge Persky himself. Following the sentencing of Brock Turner, an online petition went viral and collected well over two million signatures. The purpose of that petition? To force the recall of the judge in the Brock Turner case.
It has even been widely reported that the judge has received death threats for the jail sentence that boiled the blood of so many people. Angry activists across the nation took to social media to share their anger at what they called a case of “white privilege” and an instance of “victim shaming” that highlights how the American justice system unfairly treats victims of sexual assault.
Critics of the judge in the Brock Turner case were especially critical of the level of consideration that the judge publicly gave to the convicted sex offender’s future. In the judge’s own words, he worried over the “severe impact” that a prison sentence might have on convicted sex offender Brock Turner, adding that Turner’s family had told the court that Brock had already been “adversely affected” by his sexual assault conviction.
“I think you have to take the whole picture in terms of what impact imprisonment has on a specific individual’s life. And the impact statements that have been — or the, really, character letters that have been submitted, do show a huge collateral consequence for Mr. Turner based on the conviction.”
Critics of the light sentence meted out to Brock Turner quickly found that there was not much they could do to keep the convicted sex offender in jail, but there was a lot they could do to make Judge Persky’s life and career much more difficult.
In addition to the wildly popular recall petition, those who have a beef with Persky over the Brock Turner sentencing debacle are already planning to be waiting for Brock Turner to walk out of the Santa Clara County Jail on Friday. A large rally and protest have been planned, reportedly by many of the same people who created the successful recall petition.
Judge Persky has also personally requested to transfer to the civil division and will no longer be hearing criminal cases. This move was reportedly a direct response to the public outcry surrounding the Brock Turner sexual assault sentencing. Critics of Persky aren’t yet satisfied, though, and have vowed to keep fighting until he’s off the bench completely.
While Brock Turner’s light sentence made a lot of people very angry, it also brought about a very significant change to California law that could prevent the next woman from watching the person convicted of her sexual assault walk out of jail after only three months. The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office wrote a bill that will create mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of sexually assaulting victims who are unconscious and/or intoxicated. The bill was passed unanimously by California lawmakers this week and is waiting to be signed into law by the state’s governor. Reportedly, the bill was directly inspired by the Brock Turner case.
Prior to the newly-passed bill, sexual assault cases only qualified for mandatory minimum sentencing if the perpetrator used force and/or the victim fights back. It created a loophole that allowed sex offenders, such as Brock Turner, to be sentenced much more lightly because it didn’t apply to unconscious victims.
Brock Turner’s victim hasn’t spoken publicly about his early release, but she wrote a moving letter to the court that was read at his sentencing hearing. The pages-long letter went viral and was even read, in its entirety, on a cable news network. While Brock Turner’s sexual assault victim, known publicly only as “Emily Doe,” will now have to live with knowing that the man convicted of assaulting her only spent three months in jail, she may be find some solace in knowing that Brock Turner will also be on supervised probation and have to register as a sex offender.
[Image via Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department]