Governor Jerry Brown Signs Assembly Bill 2888

Image by Neon Tommy via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday signed Assembly Bill 2888, initially drafted in response the Brock Turner case earlier this year.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Assembly Bill 2888 implements mandatory sentences for those convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated person. Brown signed the bill although he is usually opposed to mandatory sentences, saying in a statement, “I believe it brings a measure or parity to sentencing for criminal acts that are substantially similar.”

Assembly Bill 701, which Brown also signed yesterday, incorporates all forms of “nonconsexual sexual assault” into the legal definition of rape. The Los Angeles Times explained:

Rape has previously been defined as “an act of sexual intercourse” under certain conditions of force, duress or lack of consent. Other types of sexual assault, like penetration by a foreign object, were categorized as separate offenses.”

While some advocates for sexual assault survivors applauded the passing of these bills, others were more cautious about celebrating AB2888, and for good reason. As Meghan Racklin wrote for The Establishment:

“According to the ACLU, black defendants are often prosecuted for more serious offenses than white defendants, even when the characteristics of the crime are similar. In instances of sexual violence, this seems to be particularly true when the victim is white. In the ACLU’s analysis of almost 900 cases of forcible sexual assault investigations, cases in which a black defendant is accused of raping a white woman are disproportionately likely to be brought to trial, and black men accused of raping white women received more serious charges….

Mandatory minimum sentencing statutes reduce the likelihood of a conviction for a charge covered by the statute overall, but it’s all too likely that that reduction would disproportionately benefit white defendants and those convicted of crimes covered by the statute; those who would bear the brunt of the sentences are defendants of color.”

For further information, read here.

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