The old saying “boys will be boys,” once used as a harmless phrase, has now turned into a “get out of jail free” card. Literally.
Brock Turner is the most well-known example of this, as his case has sparked an outrage across the nation. Twenty-Two-year-old Turner was charged with three counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to six months in jail. After only three months, Turner was released from jail Friday for “good behavior,” according to the Los Angeles Times. At his sentencing, theex-Stanford swimmer faced up to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors sought six years in prison.
However, Judge Aaron Persky chose a much lighter prison term as well as three years of probation. His reasoning for this slap on the wrist punishment is that a longer sentence would have “severe impact” on Turner. But what about the severe impact it has on the victim? Or does it just not matter? As long as the former star swimmer doesn’t ruin his reputation, right?
A man sexually assaults an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and walks away with three months in jail and three years of probation, and yet the victim has to walk around with the trauma for the rest of her life. At Turner’s sentencing, the victim addressed her statement directly to the defendant, her first words being, “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me.”
That statement left my heart broken and my stomach in knots. How is it that our justice system cares more about protecting a rapist than the victim who had her dignity stripped from her?
Recently, another case similar to Turner’s has been brought to the public’s attention. The case involves18-year-old David Becker who is accused of two counts of rape, but won’t be charged immediately. His punishment? Two years of probation. He was granted permission to serve his probation in both his hometown in Massachusetts as well as Ohio, where he plans to attend college. If Becker does not violate his probation, the case will not appear on his criminal record nor will he be registered as a sex offender.
It’s sad to think that this is a normal thing for our justice system. Another criminal is going unpunished for his crimes.
Hopefully a new California bill will start some much needed change. Assembly Bill 2888 seeks to close a loophole by requiring mandatory prison time for all sexual assault sentences, regardless of the victim’s mental state. The billpassed unanimously on Aug. 29 in the Assembly, and passed in the state Senate as well. The bill now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk to be signed.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, and more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims don’t report the assault. Hopefully, if Brown signs off on the bill, these statistics will go down. Knowing that these rapists will no longer just get a slap on the wrist as their punishment could potentially encourage victims to report their assaults.
After Becker was assigned his punishment, Massachusetts Governor’s Councilor, Michael Albano told CNN, “Murder is life imprisonment, rape is life imprisonment.” Victims often feel imprisoned and consumed with the constant reminder that they are a victim of rape. Survivors of rape may never recover, but changing the justice system is a start to helping victims recover.