Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner is scheduled to leave jail after three months, which is half of the already lenient sentence he received during his much publicized conviction. Turner, of course, was taken into custody after two eyewitnesses saw him sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity party. He blamed party culture even though he seemed to show no remorse while taking photos and sending them to his friends. And a new report from The Guardian reveals that Turner was laughing when the eyewitnesses pulled him off the woman. He reportedly told the court, “I was laughing at the situation of how ridiculous it was.”
This certainly doesn’t help justify Judge Aaron Persky’s concerns — mirrored by Turner, who felt “broken” — that a lengthy punishment would traumatize Turner and ruin his life. And this ultra-light sentence happened in spite of the victim’s own devastating letter, which she read out loud in court. Well, there have been consequences to the Turner case, and change is coming.
Stanford University recently announced that liquor is now banned from all on-campus parties, which coincided with the news that Persky would no longer hear criminal cases. But as for a more reliable solution — rather than a bandaid that doesn’t address the flaw in the legal system — California lawmakers have passed a bill that would require prison time for all rape convictions. To get a little more particular, the bill closes a loophole that allowed a more lenient sentence when force is not used in a rape:
California law treats sexual assault of a conscious person as a more severe crime than attacking an unconscious person. Brock Turner’s case, and the gripping testimonial his victim read in court and later published online, drew national attention to the disparity.
Assembly Bill 2888, written by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and carried by three Bay Area lawmakers — Assemblymen Evan Low and Bill Dodd and state Sen. Jerry Hill — seeks to eliminate that imbalance by imposing the same punishment for both crimes. It would prohibit probation in cases like Turner’s, effectively requiring jail time for anyone convicted of rape or sexual assault of an unconscious or intoxicated person.
Naturally, Turner didn’t have to use force to rape his victim because she was unconscious, and this bill was penned directly in response to these types of situations. The bill must still be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, but due to public pressure stemming from the Turner case, the legislators expect it to happen.