In response to the high-profile case of a Stanford student sentenced to six months in jail after his rape conviction, state Democratic lawmakers are introducing two competing bills to mandate prison sentences in such cases.
“We need to send the message that sexually assaulting vulnerable victims who are intoxicated or unconscious is a serious crime,” said Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa). “Letting a rapist off with probation and little jail time re-victimizes the victim, dissuades other victims from coming forward and sends the message that sexual assault is no big deal.”
Dodd is one of a trio of Northern California legislators behind one bill along with Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell). The bill would prohibit probation or suspended sentences in cases where the victim was unconscious or too intoxicated to give consent.
Also Wednesday, Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) said she planned to sponsor her own mandatory prison legislation for rape convictions involving unconscious victims.
“It is time that victims receive justice and that their rapists are not just given a slap on the wrist,” Campos said in a statement. “Victims deserve better, our justice system can do better.”
Since Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky handed down his sentence earlier this month, Sacramento lawmakers have gotten behind multiple efforts to respond to the case. The California Legislative Women’s Caucus, for instance, has announced it would fundraise to assist an attempt to recall Persky.