(Photo Credit: Dan Honda/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP via AP)
Brock Turner, the Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman in January 2015, will be released Friday after serving half of his controversial six month sentence.
Turner was convicted of assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person after attacking an unconscious woman behind a garbage bin on campus.
Prosecutors in the case asked that he serve six years in prison. However, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky noted Turner’s age and lack of a criminal record and issued a shorter sentence, stating that a long prison term would have a “severe impact on him”. Turner is required to register as a sex offender. Many have accused Judge Persky of showing bias because of the lenient sentence.
Critics, such as Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, state that his sentence showed bias toward young, privileged, white men. As stated by the Washington Post, Dauber said, “I think he clearly does not understand violence against women and sex crimes as serious crimes. He treats them like misdemeanors.”
Persky was voluntarily reassigned to civil court, which will take effect September 6th. According to the LA Times, Judge Rise Jones Pichon said in a statement, “Judge Persky believes the change will aid the public and the court by reducing the distractions that threaten to interfere with his ability to effectively discharge the duties of his current criminal assignment.”
Early release is not uncommon in California. The LA Times reported that in 2014, 13,500 inmates were being released early every month to help alleviate overcrowding. Santa Clara County inmates usually only serve half of their original sentence, if they have “good behavior”.
This case has led to new laws in California regarding mandatory minimum sentences for sexual assault. If signed by Governor Jerry Brown, it would require a three year minimum sentence, to prevent similar lenient sentences for rape cases in the future. According to KRON 4, a Bay area news station, Democratic Assemblyman Bill Dodd, who co-authored the bill said, “sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that.” He added, “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.”