In response to former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner’s release from prison after serving a mere three months for the rape of an unconscious student, California lawmakers passed AB 2888. The bill, if signed by Governor Jerry Brown, would create a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison for any person convicted of rape or sexual assault of an unconscious person, with no ability for that person to get probation.
As advocates for safety and equity, Prevention Institute (PI) believes that AB 2888 is misguided. We’ve joined a broad-based coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, women’s rights groups, and social justice organizations in a letter campaign urging Governor Brown to veto the bill.
If enacted, AB 2888 will exacerbate harm and injustice while investing little in prevention. Research shows that laws like this have harmful consequences that are experienced disproportionately by African- American, Latino, and low-income communities, including those already incarcerated, their children and other family members.
In 2013, a report by the Sentencing Project found that people of color receive longer sentences than their white counterparts for the same crimes, harsher sentences do not deter violence, and one out of every 25 people convicted is innocent.
California has a history of enacting mandatory minimum sentences in reaction to high profile incidents, including the Three Strikes Law. Disparities in sentencing build on disparities throughout the criminal justice system, including the greater likelihood of people from African-American, Latino, and low-income communities to be arrested and charged.
PI is a national nonprofit organization working to advance health and safety in communities across California and the United States. With decades of experience working at the national, state, and local levels on a multitude of issues, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, child abuse, community violence, and other health and safety issues, we are particularly aware of vast inequities that exist in the conditions in communities that shape people’s lives and choices. Sexual assault is a pervasive problem that is in fact preventable.
We have partnered with survivors, advocates, public systems, philanthropy, researchers, and others, to identify the factors that increase the likelihood of sexual violence, and the strategies that create the conditions that support safe choices. Those who are most vulnerable— including girls and boys, young women, women of color, people who are LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and people who are incarcerated – deserve to live free from sexual violence and the threat of sexual violence.
PI is committed to addressing and preventing the vast harm of sexual violence, and the callous culture that promotes and condones it. However, AB 2888 is not an effective part of the solution. We respectfully request that Governor Brown veto AB 2888.