The Outrageous Reason Brock Turner Received Such a Pathetic Sentence Is Way Bigger Than One Judge

June 24th 2016

Lucy Tiven

On Wednesday, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced a bill in response to Brock Turner's lenient sentencing and the mass outrage it inspired.

Rosen read the wrenching letter penned by Turner's victim when he introduced the bill, which also illuminated the legal reasons that Turner's vexing, pathetic sentencing was possible.

The proposed bill would require that people convicted of sexually assaulting unconscious victims receive the same minimum sentence — three years in prison — that people convicted of sexually assaulting conscious victims face. It would also make these offenders ineligible for probation.

Turner's June sentencing brought the vexing technicalities that prevent victims of sexual assault from getting justice into the mainstream. Turner received a sentence of six months in county jail and will serve only three.

Many have attributed the legal system's treatment of Turner and the media coverage of the case to his position of privilege as a white, star athlete at a prestigious university.

"This has always been at the center of the disconnect in how we view black and white youth," Zeba Blay observed on The Huffington Post. "A young white man sexually assaults a girl and it’s a terrible but once-in-a-lifetime mistake. A black boy like 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is shot and killed for absolutely no reason at all, but a few photos of him flashing gold teeth or playfully throwing up the “West-Side” sign are used as a means for justifying his death."

Much of the public outrage over the meager penalty Turner faces for committing an egregiously violent crime has been directed at Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who handled the case.

That anger is warranted. The sentence sends a shameful message in and of itself, and Perksy's statement explaining that giving Turner a more severe prison sentence "would have a severe impact on him" lends an even more disturbing dimension to the decision.

Rosen has said that he does not support the campaign to recall Judge Persky. “I believe in judicial independence," he told The Guardian. "The judge got it wrong in this case, but he had the right to give that sentence.”

Whether or not you believe Perksy should be recalled, the bill points out that the loopholes victims of sexual assault encounter in the criminal justice system are far bigger than one judge.

“We’ve read her letter," Rosen said at Wednesday's announcement. "Now let’s give her back something beyond worldwide sympathy and anger. Let’s give her a legacy that will send the next Brock Turner to prison.”

[h/t The Cut]