Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky is facing a mounting angry public over his “light” sentence for Stanford University student, Brock Turner for having raped an unconscious college student. According to the New York Times, Judge Persky received threats against himself and his family. Several hundred thousand people have already signed a petition to recall the judge. There was a silent protest recently at Stanford’s commencement, with graduates holding signs reading “RAPE IS RAPE.”
Turner, who was intoxicated at the time of the sexual assault, attacked the victim behind a trash bin when she was unconscious due to intoxication.
The sentence: 6 months’ county jail, 3 years of probation, for three felony counts of sexual assault. Sounds light, right? If he violates probation in any way, he faces prison time. Not mentioned much, hardly at all, in the news accounts of the widespread and angry efforts to now recall Judge Persky: the lifetime requirement to register as a Sex Offender.
Turner will have the Registration requirements hound him and limit him and shame him for the rest of his life. The Sex Registration requirement is so awful, so destructive to the offender’s life, that I have had grown, middle-aged men cry to my face when facing charges for “Failure to Register”, telling me they were sick and tired of this “scarlet letter” hanging over them.
- How does this “light” registration requirement work? In general:
- Sex offenders are kept in a Department of Justice database
- Registration with a local law enforcement agency is required every year within five working days of the offender’s birthday; it’s every 30 days
- if they are homeless
- The offender’s name is listed on the internet for the public to see
- When registration is not timely, the violation is listed on the web
- Failure to register can be filed as a Felony, with up to three years of prison time being the possible punishment.
- The Offender may not be able to live near a school or park, depending on the sentence imposed.
The specifics for Sex Offender registration are found in Penal Code 290, and the codes that follow. It is no easy thing to remove the lifetime requirement. It may require seeking a Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or a Governor’s Pardon. More information can be found at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov.
Imposing a Sex Offender lifetime registration requirement is hardly a “light” sentence at all. It is heavy, and I guarantee it will have a lasting, negative impact on Brock Turner’s life. He’s ruined. People will not want to hire him. People will not want to associate with him, or have him live in their neighborhoods. This could lead to a lifetime of misery and probably homelessness. While using Sex Offender website information is allowed only to protect a person, human nature indicates people use it for unlawful purposes like discrimination in denying people jobs and housing.
While the California Assembly is currently working to redefine “rape” as a result of this case, and the angry public works to remove Judge Pernsky from the bench, it’s a good idea to consider the entire impact of the sentence Brock Turner received. It isn’t all “light” at all.