California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Friday signed legislation that will mean tougher punishment for some offenders convicted of rape or sexual assault, just months after the Brock Turner case that garnered national headlines.
Under Assembly Bill 2888, courts would not be allowed to grant probation to people convicted in a rape or sexual assault involving a victim who was unconscious — or was too intoxicated to give his or her consent. The measure emerged in the wake of the Turner case, in which an unconscious woman was sexually assaulted outside a fraternity house in January 2015.
“As a general matter, I am opposed to adding more mandatory minimum sentences,” Brown said in a signing message. “Nevertheless, I am signing AB 2888, because I believe it brings a measure of parity to sentencing for criminal acts that are substantially similar.”
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen on Friday said the bill was about “parity, and about treating victims of sexual assault equally.” He said it reflected “the growing consciousness that we have about protecting women” and holding offenders accountable.
“He got less than a semester in county jail,” said Rosen, whose office was involved in the legislation. “The next person that does something like this is going to be in prison for at least three years.”
A news release from Rosen’s office said the bill was “inspired” by the Turner case.
Here’s the Los Angeles Times, with more on the measure:
Assembly Bill 2888 will prohibit a judge from handing a convicted offender probation in certain sex crimes such as rape, sodomy and forced oral copulation when the victim is unconscious or prevented from resisting by any intoxicating, anesthetic or controlled substance.
Assemblymen Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Bill Dodd (D-Napa), who coauthored the bill, have said the legislation closed a loophole in sentencing guidelines. …
Currently under the law, those convicted of rape using physical force must serve prison time. But offenders like Turner who are convicted of sexually assaulting someone who is unconscious or incapable of giving consent because they are intoxicated, can receive a lesser sentence based on a judge’s discretion.
“This bill will require that the next Brock Turner be sentenced to prison,” Rosen said. “Because it makes the punishment for sexually assaulting an unconscious person the same as the punishment for sexually assaulting a conscious person. In California, the punishment for sexually assaulting a conscious person, or raping someone, is three, six or eight years in prison. The judge has discretion to decide whether its three, six or eight. But that is years in prison. This bill would have the same sentencing structure. So the next Brock Turner will [be] sent to prison for either three, six or eight years.”
Turner was convicted this year of three felony counts, which included assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman. The victim in the case, known as “Emily Doe,” wrote a 12-page impact statement that called Turner’s jail sentence “a soft time-out,” and received national attention.
Turner’s sentence received widespread criticism, as did the judge who issued it, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky.
“I want to thank Governor Brown for his signing of AB 2888. This sends the strongest possible message that rape is rape and in California, if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time,” Assembly member Evan Low said in a statement Friday. “Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion. While we can’t go back and change what happened, we have made sure it never happens again.”