Guest Commentary: Remember the Stanford Rape Victim When Voting on Prop. 57

prison-barbed-wiresBy 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. 

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18 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    The equally knowledgeable group that Matt Rexroad does not include in his list of opponents of Prop. 57 are the psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, and others in our prison system who emphasize rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners into our community. The groups he lists are exclusively on the “law and order” and “punishment” side of the spectrum. From my eight years of close association with the “other side” of the prison continuum, this issue is much more complicated than Mr. Rexroad has portrayed. I would urge a less emotional ( read the victim’s testimony) and more balanced approach to this initiative.  I am an individual whose life work has been intimately involved with the consequences of sexual violence and exploitation. As such, I am a very strong advocate for the victims of sexual violence. And yet I see this as much more nuanced than a simple “lock them up and throw away the key” approach.

  2. Marina Kalugin

    Just because law enforcement unions and law enforcement officers oppose a law enforcement bill does not mean that it is not in the best interests of the citizens and illegals also.

    The law enforcement folks have a vested interest to increase their own ranks and their own salaries and pay while ensuring that more and more innocent people are incarcerated…..if the numbers of prisoners goes down, some officers will lose their jobs, and the unions will have fewer dues paying members.

    Follow the money and learn the truth.

    I already voted…..but  be wise folks….if you have had instances with your family and/or friends, as I have on too many occasions, including me personally,  where the cops lied on police reports et al, one would be much more cynical …and thus I am…..

    Read all sides and figure out who you want to believe…..I generally do not believe law enforcement any more….nor most unions either….but I am supporting someone who unions are supporting….because in Mariko Yamada’s case, I trust her more than I dislike some unions, right?

     

    1. Matt Rexroad

      Good idea. Follow the money.

      The yes side has spent $3,485,530

      The no side has spent $620,114

      Vote no because they have spent less.  Great idea.

       

      Matt Rexroad

      916-539-0455

       

  3. Misanthrop

    The author is both a County Supervisor and a partner in a political consulting company. I’m curious if his company is involved in the no on 57 campaign or if he is only doing this out of his personal concern about the initiative?

  4. WesC

    A little clarification on Prop 57:

    To be granted parole, all inmates, current and future, must demonstrate that they are rehabilitated and do not pose a danger to the public.  The Board of Parole Hearings-made up mostly of law enforcement officials-determines who is eligible for release.  Any individuals approved for release will be subject to mandatory supervision by law enforcement

    The Board of Parole conducted suitability hearings for 5300 inmates during the year 2015.  Only 902 or 17% were granted.  A decision of granted does not mean the inmate will be released.  If he/she had a future release date,they would be released on that date.  All inmates granted parole will be under additional community parole supervision for up to 3 years after release.

    Prop 57 does NOT automatically release anyone from prison.  It does NOT authorize parole for violent offenders.  The California Supreme Court clearly stated that parole eligibility under Prop 57 applies  “only to prisoners convicted of non-violent felonies”  Violent criminals as defined in penal 667.5(c) are excluded from parole.  It does NOT and will not change the federal court order that excludes sex offenders as defined in Penal Code 229, from parole.  It does NOT diminish victims rights.  It does NOT prevent judges from issuing tough sentences.

     

     

  5. Marina Kalugin

    I know a young man whose life was ruined some decades ago because he fell in love with a highly promiscuous and yet underage girl……….he was “too old” but had never hardly had a date….lots more to that story …it is public record back in the 90s…..

    I no longer trust police, the CHP , and prosecutors….

    I rarely trust unions either…..

    And, I am not even saying which way to vote…..but this guys name Matt Rexroad is eerily familiar…

    Not in a good way either….

    If it were up to me, I would get rid of halfway houses, jails and most prisons…..

    and it has come to my attention, that the halfway houses are WAY worse than jails which are WAY worse than prisons…

    Those places are full of innocent people….  many die on the way to the jail or in the jail of “suspicious” circumstances.

    Most guys are just idiots when their sex organs are working stronger than the few brain cells they may have ….

    1. Matt Rexroad

      “Those places are full of innocent people….  many die on the way to the jail or in the jail of “suspicious” circumstances.”

       

      you are misinformed.

       

      Matt Rexroad

      (916) 539-0455

  6. Marina Kalugin

    those who are set up by the criminals on the other side of the bars, will likely never get parole….know why?   because those who lied to put them in prison will never be safe, so the lies and evidence will be sooo so very stacked against them….right?

  7. Frankly

    We are a yo-yo society because of activist fools that keep amplifying and agitating for causes that then cause problems that other activist fools amplify and agitate for.

    In the 80s and 90s we were seeing a growing crime epidemic.  The activist fools at that time demanded more law enforcement and tougher penalties.   Thank Hillary’s husband for doing things at the national level to start cracking down.  It worked.  Crime fell and continued to fall until recently.  The cops were the heroes taking care of the villain criminal element.

    But now activists are back now with a demand that we soften our approach fighting crime.  They now say the criminals are victims and the cops are the villains.  They want to release these people from their “unfair” incarceration and put them back into society.

    Thus the yo-yo saga continues.

    If they get their way we will see an accelerated increase in crime.  More theft, muggings, car-jacking, rapes, murders, etc.   We will see more illegal drug trafficking.   More sex trafficking.

    And then new foolish activists will have something to validate their existence and add meaning to their otherwise potentially meaningless lives.

  8. Ann Block

    The increase in crime cited by Supervisor Rexroad is much more complicated that he would have us believe — and while there may be a “correlation” with Prop 47, there is no clear causation as of yet.  In fact, crime increased nationwide, and Prop 47 does not explain why that occurred in other states.  From the Orange County Register (not noted for “foolish liberal activism”):

    July 2, 2016

    SACRAMENTO – The number of violent crimes jumped 10 percent across California last year, reversing several years of declines, the state’s attorney general reported Friday.

    Homicides increased nearly 10 percent, while robberies and aggravated assaults were up more than 8 percent from 2014 to 2015, Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a series of crime reports. Aggravated assaults with a firearm jumped 15.7 percent, while assaults on peace officers increased by 10 percent.

    The number of reported rapes increased from 9,397 in 2014 to 12,793 last year, though the attorney general’s office said the legal definition has changed so the two numbers can’t be directly compared.

    The number of property crimes increased more than 8 percent, led by double-digit increases in vehicle and other thefts. Burglaries dropped nearly 3 percent.

    Harris, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate, did not comment on the reasons for the increases. But her office noted in a news release that violent and property crime rates remain below 2010 levels.

    Preliminary FBI crime figures for the first half of 2015 also showed an increase in violent crime across many U.S. cities. Experts have had difficulty pinpointing a cause or if it is the start of an upward trend from historically low levels in recent years.

    “Year-to-year changes always have to be taken with a grain of salt,” said UC Berkeley criminologist Barry Krisberg, formerly president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Increases could be affected by surges in particular cities or regions, he said.

    “Crime rates, particularly violent crime rates, have just been dropping precipitously for many years and this could be seen as a kind of slight regression from that,” Krisberg said. “The crime rate couldn’t go down forever and so you’d expect to see an adjustment at a certain point. … It should cause us to take a closer look at what’s going on and not assume some simplistic answer to it.”

    Many factors could be to blame, from unemployment rates to changes in sentencing patterns to fewer police on the streets, he said, and it is difficult to isolate a particular one.

    Criminal Justice Legal Foundation legal director Kent Scheidegger said he blames the crime increase on California’s shift in late 2011 to keeping lower-level offenders in county jails instead of state prisons.

    “It confirms what we’ve been hearing anecdotally from law enforcement, reports from individual cities,” said Scheidegger, whose organization advocates for crime victims.

    However, experts studying the state’s sweeping criminal justice realignment have yet to find a related increase in crime.

    Last year:

    • There were 1,861 homicides in California, or 4.8 for every 100,000 residents.

    • That represents 164 more homicides than 2014.

    • The rate is the same as in 2010 but up from 2014.

    • Over the last decade, the homicide rate has ranged from a high of 6.9 homicides per 100,000 in 2006 to a low of 4.4 in 2014.

    • Nearly 9 percent of the homicides were deemed to be justifiable last year.

    • Of the 163 justifiable homicides, 130 were by police and the remaining 33 by citizens.

    • More than 70 percent of homicides were committed with firearms last year, up more than 9 percent from 2014.

    The news came the same day that Gov. Jerry Brown signed several laws increasing California’s already strict gun regulations. Voters will consider more gun restrictions on the November ballot.

    Hate crimes increased 10.4 percent last year, with 837 reported statewide, Harris said in a separate report.

    The increase was led by a nearly 50 percent jump in hate crimes involving a religious bias, from 127 in 2014 to 190 in 2015. There were 40 hate crimes involving Muslims last year, up from 18 in 2014, while those targeting Jews increased from 80 in 2014 to 97 last year.

    The boost comes as presidential candidates debate the wisdom of restricting Muslim immigration into the United States.

     

    1. Frankly

      Guns don’t shoot themselves.  Cars don’t drive themselves.  Bathtubs and swimming pools don’t suck in drowning victims themselves.  However, all tend to be involved in a relatively high number of fatalities per population.

      And Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the nation and the highest city gun crime and gun murder rate.

      Irrational criminal victimology and the transference of responsibility for bad human behavior onto inanimate objects is some really messed up fanciful thinking.

      And I reject that hate crimes are on the rise… it is just that more minor encounters are reported and the statistics are more often collected these days by the hypersensitive and those that make a career out of herding them.  Today “he looked at me cross-eyed” counts as a hate crime.

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