There was a lot of outrage last week when a judge sentenced a man to six months in county jail followed by probation for raping an unconscious woman next to a dumpster at a frat party. The assault was caught by two graduate students. When they came upon the assault, the assailant, Brock Turner started to run away from the scene leaving the woman in the dirt.
The two post grad students caught Turner and held him down until police arrived. During the trial, Turner admitted to having sex with the woman, but naturally claimed it was “consensual” and that he was too drunk to realize she was unconscious. He wasn’t too drunk to run away though when caught in the act.
A jury found Turner guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. Prosecutors recommended six years in state prison, noting that he’d lied about his alcohol history, had been previously accused of aggression toward women and has refused to admit he committed assault.
The judge apparently didn’t see it that way. Judge Persky determined that six months in jail followed by three years of probation was the best punishment for Turner, stating that he had to ask himself, “Is incarceration in prison the right answer for the poisoning of (the woman’s) life?” Perksy also cited Turner’s lack of a criminal record as a factor in a more lenient sentence.
In case you are wondering, California law provides a minimum of two to three years in state prison for such a crime. But, ask your self this question, “Is incarceration in prison the right answer for poisoning of (the woman’s) life?” That was the question the judge supposedly asked himself. His answer was a resounding NO!
So, the next obvious question is what does Judge Persky think is required for incarceration in prison? He apparently doesn’t think raping an unconscious woman is sufficient for incarceration. I am flabbergasted at this Judge’s reasoning. Or should I say lack of reasoning.
This attack took place at Stanford University. Several groups including students, professors, and even the Greek life wrote letters supporting the woman and demanding justice. They also pointed out that the University has programming that deals with sexual assault, consent and alcohol usage. Turner received this program as a freshman.
Dan A. Turner, Brock Turner’s dad, wrote a letter to Judge Aaron Persky before his son’s sentencing Thursday. He said that since his son was found guilty of sexual assault, he isn’t eating much and is full of worry and anxiety. It’s “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” he argued.
Damn the woman. His son deserves leniency because he isn’t eating well and is full of worry and anxiety because he raped a women while she was unconscious. Her pain and suffering resulting from the assault doesn’t count as much, apparently because, well she is a woman. To me, the phrase “20 minutes of action” is code words for “she probably had it coming”. That makes Turner’s father just as despicable as Turner himself.
While this was all going on, Congress has been trying to pass legislation reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The law, which expired in 2007, banned states receiving federal money from jailing juveniles in correctional facilities where they would be in contact with adults convicted of criminal charges.
The only member of the Senate who opposes this bill is that great “rising star of the Republican Party, Tom Cotton. Even conservatives want it to be reauthorized. But, Cotton “put a hold” on the bill and it will probably die. He is railing against the “criminal leniency movement,” and says he has nothing but “contempt” for those who want more “empathy” for criminals. Though he has remained silent on the lack of justice in the rape case in California. Maybe he agrees with the Judge.
You may want to know what exactly is Cotton opposed to in the reauthorization of this bill. Well, his objection to the juvenile justice bill centers on its elimination of the Valid Court Order (VCO) that allows judges to lock up juveniles for “status offenses,” transgressions like running away from home, disobeying parents, underage tobacco use, or curfew violations, behaviors that would never land an adult in jail.
Arkansas, Cotton’s home state, has the fastest growing prison population in the country, and it is one of the most prolific users of VCOs, locking up children as young as eight for these status offenses. The state doesn’t separate juveniles according to their level of offense so kids detained for chronic truancy can be kept with someone charged with a serious crime.
“His state is among the top ten of the least safe juvenile centers in the country, with kids most likely to be assaulted,” says Naomi Smoot, a Senior Policy Associate with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
Just think about this for a minute. Children as young as eight years old are being locked up in juvenile centers for things like “missing school too much” or “running away from home”. Nor are they separated from more violent criminals in these “juvenile centers”.
The bill has the support of conservatives, liberals, judges, attorneys, even over 5000 law enforcement agencies. His own state of Arkansas has a task force whose job it is to come up with prison reform. Yet Cotton is standing firm in his “law and order” stupidity.
There is no doubt that this “rising star in the Republican Party” is going to make a run for President in the next four to eight years. He is determined to stand apart as the new “law and order icon.” And, if children are to become victims of his hunt for the White House, so be it.
So, in Washington we have a junior Senator holding up a bill because he believes that if children miss school too much they deserve to be locked up in the name of law and order. And, in California, we have a judge that thinks “poisoning a woman’s life” by raping her while she was unconscious is not sufficient cause to incarcerate her assailant.
I can think of nothing better to show the absurdity of our Criminal Justice system that comparing these two issues. According to Judge Persky, you can rape an unconscious woman and not face the minimum sentencing for that crime. But, if you are an eight year old who skips school too much, Senator Cotton thinks we should “lock the little bastard up”!
Here are two instances the shows our Criminal Justice system at its worst. Tell me again how we don’t need criminal justice reform!