Stop Mandatory Sentencing

It can not be over-stated that the entire population cares very deeply about rape and sexual assault. We are constantly searching for way to drive the numbers down, and whether it is by sheer luck or the result of such measures, rape and sexual assault are at one of the lowest points in history.

That is not to say that we can eviscerate this scourge. Crime is already illegal, and no one ever commits a crime thinking they’re going to be caught and punished. Most people commit crimes without thinking at all. When we establish mandatory sentences for any crime, we remove the ability of a Judge, Lawyers and Jury to do their jobs–which is to assess a situation and make a ruling based on criminal history, past convictions, severity of crime, likelihood for the accused to be a repeat offender, status as the individual threat, and proclivity of the accused toward rehabilitation. Essentially, whether or not prison is the right answer.

California Assembly Bill 2888 asserts that there should be no legal distinction in how various forms of sexual misconduct are punished. It is an over-simplified mess of legislation that essentially serves no legitimate purpose other than for lawmakers to say “we did something” to quell any negative emotions constituents may harbor. We can not make new laws as an emotional response to things we don’t comprehend. That’s how innocent people get hurt, and guilty people get a fucked up form of justice. None of this benefits victims. None of it stops crime.

pols_reeferThe Bill, which is sitting, waiting for approval from the Governor of California after passing both House Assembly and Senate (no surprise there), states nothing about terms or length of sentencing; only that the Judge MUST sentence “jail time” for anyone convicted of sexual misconduct. This doesn’t change the Brock Turner verdict one bit. Jail time could be 48-hours, for all they care. It’s just an arbitrary and flippant faux-reformation. The Bill even states that probation is not allowed unless the judge deems it appropriate (meaningless)…but then the Judge must outline exactly who he/she felt that probation was preferred over jail time. Most-to-all individuals with sexual violence convictions would get both, to varying degrees. But the real punishment is having to live your life with a permanent “sex offender” name-tag, utterly fucking a guilty person out of most opportunities in life. But who cares, right? Unless we’re talking about rehabilitation, and getting convicted felons back on their feet and back into society, then we pretend to care again.

The point is, no amount of head-patting and saying “there there” is going to ease the pain that victims have. There is only one way to stop rapists from getting away with their crimes, and that’s to report sexual assault and stop trying to conflate what you feel with the crime. Stop telling victims that police are going to “laugh at them” or that we live in a rape culture that consistently blames the victim. That doesn’t help, and it’s never ever been true.

Stop speaking for victims and spreading rumors that could diminish the victim’s legal recourse. That doesn’t help.

And stop corroding the experiences of actual victims of sexual violence by claiming that every time someone is “mean” to you, it’s assault. That doesn’t help.

Cat calling and otherwise being a creep does not translate as sexual violence or abuse.

Nobody who goes through their life wanting to play the victim knows what it’s like to actuallbe a victim.

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Everyone needs to do their homework and stop believing nonsense about these high-profile cases before it’s too late. Your overenthusiastic mob mentality destroys our legal system. Nearly ever myopic and poorly constructed criticism you have about the American legal system can be boiled down to Mandatory Minimum Sentencing.

But, fuck, you don’t trust the system anyway…so why would you care?

You’ll care when you’re the one in trouble, when you’re the one accused of something, whether you’re guilty or innocent. It’s easy to make new laws, take away rights, simplify systems that you don’t understand, so they rely on a coin flip and not human intervention. It’s not so easy to reverse those laws, return rights to the people, overturn a guilty verdict, or give someone back their humanity.

There’s one lesson that everyone needs to learn; male or female, no matter where you live, no matter what lifestyle you have, no matter if you’re going out on the town with the girls, or going out partying with the boys…take personal responsibility. Your decisions matter. And if people in the social media ether had their way, your decisions would have more impact than you could have ever possibly intended.

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