Oftentimes when injustice happens, there is very little we can do to make change, despite our rage. Such was the case of Brock Turner early this year. In case you live under a rock, Turner is the former Stanford student (former because he withdrew from the University, not because he was expelled, as ridiculous as that is) who was found guilty of raping a fellow student in a January 2015 incident, and was subsequent sentenced to only six months in prison because the judge thought a longer sentence would “have a severe impact on him.” Of course, that impact of prison for Turner (who was released after only three months for “good behavior”) would have paled in the comparison to the impact of being raped on the victim, but at the time, the judge was well within his rights to hand down that sentence. But in this particular case, the rage people had over the situation did create some change. And while it won’t provide more justice for Turner’s victim, it will protect victims going forward.
On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed in to law Assembly Bill 2888 Assembly Bill 2888, which “would prohibit a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, or oral copulation if the victim was either unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.” Previously, this was only the case if a person was convicted of rape or sexual assault by force.
According to The Huffington Post, the bill’s authors were spurred into action by the Turner case:
“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,” said Assemblymember Bill Dodd (D-Napa), one of the bill’s co-authors, after the legislation passed in the assembly. “This bill is about more than sentencing, it’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes.”
“Rape is rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist,” said another co-author, Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell). “Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion. Current law actually incentivizes rapists to get their victims intoxicated before assaulting them. While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.”
Thanks, Mr. Dodd and Mr. Low for stepping up to ensure that the Brock Turners of the world are punished in a manner that’s appropriate for the crime they’ve committed. It’s a tiny step, but at least it’s one in the right direction..
[Via The Huffington Post]