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California Is Passing a Law to Prevent Another Brock Turner Sentencing Controversy

The new law, which unanimously passed the California State Assembly Monday, would require prison time without parole for anyone convicted of raping an unconscious person.

by VICE Staff
Aug 30 2016, 7:10pm

Brock Turner mugshot via Santa Clara Sheriff's Department.

Lawmakers in California have passed a new law that would require prison time for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious person, BuzzFeed News reports.

The new legislation would close a current loophole requiring prison time only for rapists who use force. Under the new law, anyone convicted of penetrating an unconscious person—as former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of doing—would not be eligible for probation. The law still needs to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown to go into effect, but it unanimously passed the California State Assembly on Monday and received support from Santa Clara County district attorney Jeff Rosen, who was the lead prosecutor in Turner's trial.

"Sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated victim is a terrible crime and our laws need to reflect that," Assemblyman Bill Dodd told BuzzFeed. "Letting felons convicted of such crimes get off with probation discourages other survivors from coming forward and sends the message that raping incapacitated victims is no big deal."

That was certainly the message many people received when Judge Aaron Persky handed down a light six-month jail sentence to Turner back in June. Persky has since stopped hearing criminal cases following the controversial sentence, and Turner will be released from jail this Friday, after serving just three months behind bars.

Rosen thanked Turner's victim for the letter she wrote about the incident, which was read during the trial, in a statement about the new legislation. "It gave all of us the inspiration to make sure the next Brock Turner either leaves the next Emily Doe alone, or the next Brock Turner goes to prison," Rosen wrote.

Read: A Brief and Depressing History of Rape Laws