California state lawmakers have passed a bill inspired by the Brock Turner sexual assault case, and proponents hope, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will close a loophole that allowed Turner to get a light sentence.
Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer, is set to be released from Santa Clara County’s main jail on Friday after spending just three months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after a fraternity party on the Stanford campus.
It's that sentence that inspired legislators to propose a new law.
After a jury convicted Turner, Judge Aaron Persky could have sent Turner to prison for 10 years. Instead, Persky sentenced him to six months in jail. Turner is being released early for good behavior, a standard reduction for all inmates.
On Monday, the state Assembly unanimously passed Assembly Bill 2888, which would make prison time mandatory for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a person who is unconscious or too intoxicated to give consent.
Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, co-authored the bill.
"We cant go back and change the ridiculously light sentence, but we can make sure that the next Brock Turner is sent away for a much longer time," Low said.
The YWCA Silicon Valley in San Jose runs a rape crisis center to assist victims of sexual assult. Leaders there hope the proposed legislation can make a difference.
"We hope it encourages more victims to come forward," said Tanis Crosby, CEO of YWCA Silicon Valley. "Survivors need to have confidence that there will be an equitable justice system."
The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill, saying that mandatory minimum sentences "have increased racial disparities in sentencing with more people of color going to prison for more time."
When Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen sponsored the bill in June, he questioned why, under the law, sexual assault of an unconscious woman would be any less terrible than assaulting a consicous woman.
Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.