By Matt Rexroad
Before you vote on Proposition 57, please take a moment to think about the woman who was raped on the Stanford campus by Brock Turner. Read her powerful letter that describes the ordeal she went through not only on the night of Jan. 17, 2015 when she was raped but for the next year and a half as Turner was tried, convicted and sentenced to just six months in jail – only half of which he served before being released in early September.
In her statement, which was read in court, she described going to a party on campus, then “[t]he next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow.” Her naked body was examined and photographed for evidence.
“After a few hours of this, they let me shower,” she said. “I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. There was understandable outrage at his lenient sentence. Three months in jail and three years probation for destroying a woman’s life is an outrage. So much so that the state Legislature passed legislation banning probation for a similar crime in the future, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed.
So it’s ironic that the same Gov. Brown is also a strong backer of Prop. 57, which would allow early release for criminals like Brock Turner. Brown said, “Prop. 57 focuses law enforcement on serious violent crime, stops wasting costly prison space on non-violent people who can be rehabilitated, and directs savings to programs with a proven track record of stopping the cycle of crime.”
But don’t believe it. The problem is that Prop. 57 doesn’t specify what constitutes “serious violent crime.”
As a result, this loophole allows early release of criminals who have committed such crimes as rape of an unconscious person, date rape, hate crime causing physical injury, shooting a gun on school grounds, sex trafficking of a minor, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, hostage taking, attempting to bomb a hospital or school, arson, lewd acts against a 14-year-old, supplying a firearm to a gang member, false imprisonment of an elder through violence and on and on.
Prop. 57 follows on the heels of Gov. Brown’s realignment scheme that has reduced state prison populations by tens of thousands of inmates who are instead housed in overcrowded county jails or have been released onto the street. It also follows another soft-on-crime criminal justice experiment, Proposition 47, which has reduced numerous felonies to misdemeanors.
The result has been a 10 percent increase in violent crime in California in 2015, including a 9.6 percent increase in homicide, a 36 percent increase in rape, an 8.5 percent increase in robbery and an 8 percent increase in aggravated assault.
Which is why Prop. 57 is universally opposed by our Yolo County law enforcement community, including District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Sheriff Ed Prieto, Yolo County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Yolo County District Attorneys’ Association, UC Davis Police Officers’ Association, Davis Police Officers’ Association, Woodland Police Officers’ Association, Winters Police Officers’ Association and West Sacramento Police Officers’ Association.
I’ll conclude with the Stanford victim’s response to her rapist’s lenient sentence: “The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, and of the consequences of the pain I have been forced to endure.”
Don’t allow what happened to this woman to happen to others. Vote no on Prop. 57. For more information visit the Stop Prop. 57 Facebook page.
Matt Rexroad is a Yolo County Supervisor and former Mayor of Woodland.