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January 4, 2018

"I was Raped. And I Believe The Brock Turner Sentence Is a Success Story."

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new commentary authored by Meaghan Ybos, who is the founder and executive director of People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws. I recommend the piece is full, and here is a snippet:

[T]hose critical of the scrutiny of Judge Persky have not defended Turner’s sentence. I will do so here. I am a rape victim engaged in a lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department for systematically failing to investigate rape cases and I believe that Judge Persky’s sentence was just.

The outrage over the supposedly lenient sentence misunderstands the consequences of Turner’s conviction, which includes lifetime registration as a sex offender, and vilifies individualized sentencing. I also believe that the energy and vitriol directed at Judge Persky should have been used instead to hold police departments accountable for properly investigating rape, which too many fail to do....

We should not demonize judges for handing out individualized sentences, even to Brock Turner. Instead, we should demand that judges use discretion more broadly and in favor of people from all backgrounds.  And we must recall that the very worst criminal justice policy springs from outrage over individual high profile cases from Willie Horton to, more recently, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a homeless Mexican immigrant in San Francisco who was just acquitted in a high profile murder that Donald Trump seized upon in his 2016 campaign to support his anti-immigration platform.

Furthermore, advocates ... have falsely characterized Turner’s sentence as a slap on the wrist, but his punishment also involves much more than the number of hours he was caged.  Turner owes court fees and is required to pay the victim restitution.  He must attend a year-long rehabilitation program for sex offenders, which includes mandatory polygraph exams for which he must waive his privilege against self-incrimination.  If he violates the terms of his three-year felony probation, he faces a 14-year prison sentence.  He now has a strike that can be used against him under California’s three-strikes law if he is accused of any future criminal activity.  As a convicted felon, he will not be allowed to own a gun....

The most severe part of Turner’s sentence, which anti-rape advocates largely have glossed over, is the requirement that he register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life. This means that an online sex offender registry will show his picture, his address, his convictions, and details of his probation. These lists, which contain people convicted of an ever-growing number of offenses, are so broad and oppressive that a Colorado federal court deemed them cruel and unusual punishment. They are “modern-day witch pyres” that often lead to homelessness, instability, and more time in prison.

As with Jose Ines Garcia Zarate and Willie Horton before him, political leaders seized on outrage over Turner’s sentence to justify punitiveness. The Turner case spurred a new mandatory minimum law in California removing the option of probation for people convicted of sexually assaulting a person who is intoxicated or unconscious.  By imposing a three-year mandatory sentence, the law removes judicial discretion.  “The bill is about more than sentencing,” said Democratic Assembly member Bill Dodd in a written statement following the bill’s passage. “It’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes.”

But it’s at the “front end” of the criminal justice system where most rape complaints falter.  Police have often acted as hostile gatekeepers preventing complaints from ever reaching a courtroom.  History shows police gatekeeping in cities like Philadelphia, St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, and New York City.  In recent years, police have regularly closed cases before doing any investigation, discarded rape kits (the San Jose Police Department currently has over 1,800 untested rape kits and refuses to count the rape kits collected before 2012), and have even arrested victims for false reporting. It’s not surprising that police departments solve abysmally few rapes, with some cities’ clearance rates in the single digits.

The Turner case was investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  For a sexual assault case, it is a rare success.  More punishment isn’t always the best or most just response.  Nor does it necessarily provide justice for victims.  And as long as police gatekeeping prevents rape victims from having consistent access to the criminal justice system, recalling judges and increasing sentences will yield no progress in reducing sexual assault.

January 4, 2018 at 03:34 PM | Permalink


I am sure it's not even close to legal or constutional to require someone to waive their RIGHTS against self incriminate themselves

Posted by: Rodsmith3510 | Jan 4, 2018 8:28:11 PM

That was not a rape. Hanging out, getting drunk together for several hours, going places together, all imply consent.

Feminism, a hatred of men ideology, is now ubiquitous among lawyers. It is to 2017 exactly what the KKK was to 1917. To the feminist, the family is a competitor in moral authority to a big left wing government, and must be crushed. All sex is rape to them, until there is equality of political power between the sexes.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 4, 2018 8:48:58 PM

Agreed with David. It takes a lot of work, but when you drill down into the details of this "crime" it appears to be nothing more than a drunk boy and a drunk girl. Did he even know she was passed out? Was she even passed out (in other words, was she making moves with her eyes closed or was she immobile)? It appears that two guys (?) came upon the scene and made a judgement right there, and that judgement stuck all the way to conviction, despite the evidence that poured in about the party, the girl's behavior there, her and her friend deciding to go to the party, etc., etc. She got real drunk, but didn't want to go with her friend she came with. He got real drunk and they left together. It's ridiculous. If they had managed to get to one of their apartments they might have had sex or not. After the incident blew up, the girl was coached to write a huge screed about her shame and humiliation and upset and how she will never ever be able to get over this. It is literally insane. The writer referred to in this post is right: his life is ruined by the sex offender designation. And she obviously thinks that's just great. She should be ashamed of herself. But she won't be. She should be censured not lauded. This is just more of the utterly criminal unjust state of sex offense laws in the country.

Posted by: restless94110 | Jan 5, 2018 12:53:31 AM

Should the government subsidize any institution that teaches or promotes KKK style white supremacy? Should it subsidize any that promotes feminism?

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 5, 2018 10:49:08 AM

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