On Monday, California lawmakers passed a bill that would require those who are convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious victim to serve prison time. The bill was inspired by the sentencing of the former Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, and was unanimously supported by the state assembly, with a vote of 66-0.
Turner was sentenced to a measly six-month prison sentence earlier this year after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, January 18, 2015. The victim read a powerful letter in court about how the crime has radically impacted her life, to which Turner’s father responded with no remorse or acknowledgement to what his son had done to this woman.
He is expected to be released from jail on Friday for good behavior, after serving only half of his six-month sentence.
The California bill has been signed by Santa Clara County District Attorney, Jeff Rosen, but still requires the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown in order for it to become a law. If the bill is signed into law, it will close a loophole that has previously allowed guilty offenders of sexually heinous crimes against an unconscious victim to be sentenced to probation with little to no prison time.
Until now, prison time has only been required in cases of sexual assault where force was used, which inherently excluded cases where a victim could not fight back because they were either unconscious or incapable of giving consent.
The bill aims to support victims of sexual assault across the board, and help change the culture around sexual crimes—especially on college campuses.
“Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that,” Assemblyman Bill Dodd said. “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.”
“Rape is rape, and rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist,” Assemblyman Evan Low said in a statement. “Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong; however, under current state law it was within his discretion.”
I have no words for Brock Turner. Nothing in my vocabulary even scratches the surface of the emotion and anger that his actions ignite in my soul. But, I’m glad to see that something good came out of his laughable sentencing, and that sex offenders in the state of California will be subject to a punishment that Turner inexcusably avoided.