Brock Turner Should Still Be in Prison, Not on the Sex Offender Registry

His punishment is too lenient and too harsh.


SCCSD / Splash News/Newscom

Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious female student, was released from prison today after serving just three months of his six-month sentence.

Most people are outraged—and for good reason. Turner's sentence was incredibly lenient to begin with. Prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence, and there's good reason to believe that Judge Aaron Persky went easy on Turner for reasons of privilege: he was concerned about the "impact" a long prison sentence would have on Turner, a young white male.

But those in the media who assert that Turner got off with a mere slap on the wrist are only telling half the story. Now that Turner is out of prison, he will have to register as a sex offender—perhaps for the rest of his life.

Turner is not a victim, obviously: he did commit a very serious sex crime, one that could haunt the young woman he assaulted for the rest of her life. It's understandable why she would feel like she was deprived of justice—the man convicted of sexually assaulting her got to walk out prison, three months later, as if the judge cared more about Turner's well-being than her own.

But while Turner's light prison sentence was ill-fitting given the nature of his crime, sex offender registration is similarly misguided. The sex offender registry wasn't designed to be an ongoing punishment, in any case. Rather, it's supposed to be a public safety tool—informing citizens that they live in the vicinity of a sex offender. In theory, the registry protects kids by making it difficult or impossible for sex offenders to live near schools and public parks: not to punish them, but to make it harder for them to commit additional crimes. There are strict limitations on where they can live, they have to inform local officials whenever they move, and they must check-in frequently in order to re-register. (Lenore Skenazy has written about the time registered sex offender Josh Gravens was nearly arrested right in front of her because of a scheduling error.)

There's no reason to believe Turner is a danger to kids, though. And being on the sex offender list won't stop him from engaging in the kind of behavior that got him into trouble: registered sex offenders can still attend college parties and drink alcohol. His status will make it difficult for him to find a place to live or hold a job, but it won't really make anyone safer.

Certainly, a lot of people will respond, who cares? Turner got off easy, anyway, they will say, and the sex offender registry is a relatively small price to pay for not being in prison years longer. All true.

But the purpose of the criminal justice system should be to keep the public safe from people who are truly dangerous, and to work toward rehabilitating everyone else. The sex offender registry utterly fails on both counts. There is no evidence that it reduces the recidivism rates of sex offenders (sex offenders are unlikely to re-offend, at least in comparison to other groups of criminals), and plenty of evidence that it makes it much harder for ex-convicts who no longer pose any danger to re-integrate into society.

Turner's prison sentence was too lenient—a symptom of a justice system that fails to take rape seriously—and yet his subsequent punishment is too harsh, as well as completely disconnected from the crime he committed.

Even Stanford University's Michelle Dauber, a leader of the effort to recall Persky for going easy on Turner, thinks so, according to The Mercury News:

But California and South Carolina are the only states that require all sex offenders to register for life. Even one of the judge's harshest critics, Stanford professor and recall leader Michele Dauber, who maintains Turner should have served time in prison, said lifetime registration is too long in his case. She noted there's no registry for murder.

"I'd say he should get off after 10 years, if he is a Boy Scout and stays out of trouble," Dauber said. "No one should be defined for the rest of their life by their worst moment."

One last thing: even though Turner served a relatively light prison sentence, it's important to note that he was convicted, and he was punished. This should serve as a reminder that the criminal justice system, despite its significant flaws, is still the best and only vehicle for adjudicating violent crimes. If a Stanford kangaroo court had tried Turner in accordance with the farcical standards of due process the Education Department recommends, he wouldn't have served any jail time at all. And he would be suing Stanford.

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  1. But those in the media who assert that Turner got off with a mere slap on the wrist are only telling half the story.

    Soave gets excoriated on the twitters, round two.

    1. Turner got off with a mere slap on the wrist

      Uh, BDSM shaming much?

  2. nice post thanks..good post

  3. Brock Turner …. was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious female student

    No calling him a “rapist” in the headline this time?

    1. Is there anything you won’t bitch about?

      1. Exactly the sort of thing a rapist would say.

  4. “The sex offender registry wasn’t designed to be an ongoing punishment, in any case.”

    I’m sure it was ‘designed’ as a vote-getting ploy by some slimy politico using kids as props during his or her speeches.

  5. The social/governing matrix grants itself unlimited impunity over the lives of sinners and criminals. Eternal indignation and its resulting mercilessness forges the snappiest path to godhead.

  6. “and there’s good reason to believe that Judge Aaron Persky went easy on Turner for reasons of privilege”

    good reason for the earnest and youthful Robby-like sanctimony chasers, but really come on now:

    there’s even better reason to believe that Judge Aaron Persky followed exactly the sentencing recommendation of the Santa Clara County Probation Department – and that he has done the same thing in the five case that the probation office has made a recommendation since he started in Santa Clara about.

    1. about a year ago

    2. he has done the same thing in the five case(s) that the probation office has made a recommendation since he started in Santa Clara

      That sounds suspiciously like…. reporting, instead of soapbox-editorializing. we’ll have none of that here, mister.

  7. There’s also an underlying assumption, among a lot of people, that being raped in prison is part of the punishment.

    Being sent to jail as a rapist for a single night is kind of a big deal, and if his his name and picture were in the news, the other inmates knew what he was there for. When you’re being . . . um. . . matriculated, the staff usually ask you something like, “Do you feel like you’re able to protect yourself” when what they mean is whether you want protective custody–but with a high profile case like this, I doubt they bothered. He probably got protective custody rather than thrown in with the general population whether he wanted it or not.

    Meanwhile, being in protective custody carries its own risks.

    Think about it this way: would you rather be locked up with dozens of drug sellers and thieves, on the one hand, or dozens of rapists and child molesters, on the other? Protective custody protects you from the general population, but unless you’re in solitary, you’ll still be interacting with other people who’ve requested protective custody. And people who’ve requested protective custody are disproportionately rapists, child molesters, and other people you really don’t want to spend all day, every day locked in a cage with.

    Prison rape is a real thing, and the whole cell block may have lined up and tag teamed this kid–regardless of whether he was in the general population.

    1. You clearly don’t know shit about jail or prisons, so you might want to quit since you already posted things that are media narrative and not factual.

      he was in Santa Clara county jail not a California prison. People are not sentenced to taxifornia prisons for less than 1 year for new offenses.

  8. So, completely disregarding this kid’s likely experience in prison may have realistically amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

    No, I don’t think making sure convicted rapists are properly gang raped in prison is a legitimate function of libertarian government.

    A big part of the problem in California is that the government has foolishly ignored its legitimate responsibilities in building new prisons–so they’re letting all sorts of violent offenders out early, moving them to county jails, who are having their own problems with overcrowding. If a judge can’t send a convicted rapist to prison for a decent sentence without violating the Eighth Amendment, don’t blame the judge or the law. Blame the Democrats in Sacramento.

    They’ve been under order to reduce California’s prison population for decades–and they still spend the taxpayers’ money on outrageous pension benefits for state employees and bullet trains to nowhere instead.

    1. Which is why we should monetize the damages he caused the girl, and rather than stupidly throwing him into a rape factory, she sells his debt to a chaingang company and the kid works it off. She’s made whole, or at least more whole than she is from the knowledge that her rapist served as a penile pincushion (sorry), he’s punished, and we keep a productive member of society out of the prison-industrial complex.

      1. Compensation is an important part of it, and I hope this girl sues the hell out of him.

        There is something to be said for incapacitating habitual offenders. Honestly, if anybody deserved to be incapacitated because he can’t be trusted not to rape unconscious females, then this is the guy.

        I’m just not willing to chuck the Eighth Amendment because the Democrats in Sacramento have ignored a court order to address prison overcrowding on Eighth Amendment grounds for over a decade.

        They sent tens of thousands of inmates to county jails to alleviate the court ordered overcrowding–because the county jails weren’t originally subject to the court order. But the county jails have overcrowding problems of their ow and are being forced to release sex offenders early:

        “The releases are benefiting even inmates sentenced to jail for violence and sex crimes, with those offenders released after serving as little as 40% of the time they were meant to spend behind bars, according to Sheriff’s Department records obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act.”

        “Even violent and sex offenders released early by L.A. County Jail”
        Los Angeles Times


        1. County jails are an especially awful place to overcrowd to the point of violating the Eight Amendment because they also contain people who are awaiting trial but can’t make bail, haven’t been convicted yet, and will be found “not guilty” by a jury. I’m all for incapacitating convicted rapists for a reasonable period of time. Subjecting people who haven’t been found guilty of any crime to cohabitation with convicted criminals is wrong.

          . . . and yet Sacramento still hasn’t built more prisons, is still funding a bullet train to nowhere, is still funding outrageous pension benefits for state employees, etc. etc. Reforming this or that isn’t going to fix the problem. The solution comes from holding Sacramento responsible for abdicating their responsibilities–for decades.

          1. We could always overturn the death penalty for rapists…. but libertarians generally aren’t in favor of that one, are we?

      2. Wow what a comment, penile pin cushion? You stated that as if it’s a normalized acceptable occurrence. Well it IS isn’t it? Especially if the person was found guilty of rape correct? Isn’t that the joke we hear throughout the societal construct- don’t drop the soap? Big bubba’s new girl friend? Etc.? Never mind that prison guards commit over half of the prison rapes reported. Never mind that prison rape is a pandemic within those walls. Who are these ‘special’ rapists who get your blessing to rape? When these people are finally released back into society they’ll have learned their lesson and will be protective members of society correct? Rape has that effect after all right??

  9. Are sexual assault and rape the same thing?

    I’m just going to go ahead and say “no” then comment how even someone convicted of sexual assault should not be called a rapist.

    If they are the same thing, someone feel free to correct me.

    1. Much like racism, rapism is an infinitely malleable and therefore meaningless concept.


    3. If you try to stick your dick in me, but are caught before you’re able to, I’m still going to call you a shit-bag rapist. Sorry.

      1. If you try to stick your dick in me, but are caught before you’re able to,

        Did prosecution present evidence that Turner actually had his dick out, or did you just make that up to conveniently fit your argument?

    4. Each state and the fed have varying definitions and criminal offenses of sexual offenses. Forcible rape, sexual assault, sodomy, statutory rape, sex without consent, forcible penetration are various terms jurisdictions use to describe non-consensual sex.

  10. She will have to turn to Don Corleone for justice.

  11. Didn’t Turner get a light sentence because he didn’t actually commit a rape, but it was an attempted rape?

    1. Shhhhhhhhh. We’re not supposed to talk about that.

      1. His penis was this [ ] close.

  12. I would also like to comment that the criminal justice system really should not be in the business of trying to rehabilitate anyone.

    1. the criminal justice system really should not be in the business of trying to rehabilitate anyone.


      when robby said this =

      the purpose of the criminal justice system should be to keep the public safe from people who are truly dangerous, and to work toward rehabilitating everyone else

      it reminded me of other sweeping assertions he’s made, a la

      “Government’s most vital function is to protect the rights of minorities”

      The criminal justice system punishes people who are convicted of crimes in a court of law. That punishment is mostly “for its own sake”.

      Modern criminal justice ISNT either “retribution for victims” (intended to make victims feel better) or “rehabilitation” (to ensure they are made into ‘non-criminals’ in the process). It also isn’t remotely about “protecting” people. If that were the case, they’d jail people based for their *potential* for violence, rather than as a post-facto measure of the acts they’ve already committed.

      Its bad enough robby needs to pander to feminist-morons with this horseshit about how the “justice system …fails to take rape seriously”…. it would be nice if he could at least leave his wild misconceptions about civil institutions out of it.

      1. Look, I started with a pretty reasonable comment. No need to use it as a springboard for a rant about Robby hate.

        1. No need to use it as a springboard for a rant about Robby hate.

          I don’t think its “Robby hate” to flag other instances where he’s made sweeping generalizations about civic institutions that don’t actually make any sense.

          (ok the last sentence was maybe a little snitty, but doesn’t quite amount to a ‘rant’.)

          your reasonable comment is/was exactly right = criminal justice is not about rehabilitation at all.. Its mostly a myth which society uses to pretend that prison isn’t just “mere-punishment”. It is.

          [insert pretentious Foucault reference]

        2. It’s your own fault for getting drunk posting a comment. You should know the likely consequences of that.

      2. Government’s most vital function is to protect the rights of minorities

        Which is a strange thing to say, since minorities don’t have any rights that the rest of us don’t have. He seems to be saying that if a white male and a black woman are both murdered, the state should be more concerned with finding her killer than with finding his.

    2. It’s all fire and brimstone with you, huh?

      I get it. Put ’em in a cage with other caged animals and one day open the cage and set that one animal free back into society. Good luck fucking animal!

  13. Turner’s prison sentence was too lenient?a symptom of a justice system that fails to take rape seriously

    Two weeks ago:

    He argues persuasively that liberals who are serious about criminal justice reform have to start admitting to themselves that dismantling the prison-industrial complex will by necessity involve forgiving and releasing a lot of people who committed violent crimes of a sexual nature.

    1. That is perhaps the dumbest thing that Robby has ever written. The problem with our criminal justice system is not that we are imprisoning actual violent criminals for too long. How the hell could anyone think that?

      1. If you believe “mass incarceration” is a problem, then yea, you have to believe there’s too many violent felons in prison. All the other stuff doesn’t get you to “ZOMG 80x the prisoners in China.”

        1. Depending on the circumstances, both incarceration and criminality can be a problem. If you are imprisoning people for unjust reasons or for unjust lengths of time given their crime, then mass incarceration is the problem. And the US certainly has a mass incarceration problem. We put too many people in jail for things that should not be crimes and give people sentences for things that are crimes that are much too severe for the crime. The fact that we imprison violent criminals for a long time does not fit either of those criteria. To the extent that we have a lot of people in prison because they are violent criminals, we don’t have a mass incarceration problem, we have a mass criminality problem.

          1. The fact that we imprison violent criminals for a long time does not fit either of those criteria.

            But that’s the overwhelming majority of prisoners. “Mass incarceration” is a pretty stupid term for “there’s 10% or so too many people in prison.”

          2. Don’t even get me started on long jail stays for pre-trial detainees who are supposed to be presumed innocent because of corrupt and excessive bail schedules.

      2. Especially when too often violent criminals are NOT going to jail long enough!! From what I’m observing studying cases, people go to jail much longer for drug charges than for violent crimes such as rape. Was just reading a case involving a man who has violently raped FIVE TIMES. There is a nifty ‘catch and release’ program for violent offenders. I don’t get it.

        1. Drug offenders sometimes have cash that the gov can steal. Violent offenders rarely have much cash. They have to have violent offenders back on the street to arrest them multiple times to make the same forfeiture profit form average drug offender. Plus, violent offenders are more likely to cause big gov media coup to gain access to more money and military weaponry. Need those swat teams just in case for the town of 1000 residents.

  14. RE: Brock Turner Should Still Be in Prison, Not on the Sex Offender Registry
    His punishment is too lenient and too harsh.

    Wrong. Brock Turner is a rich and comes from a politically connected family. Therefore, treating him like any of the little people by sending him to prison for rape only sends the wrong message. If Mr. Brock’s family is rich and is well connected enough to get him into Stanford, then he should only get off with such severe punishments as no pudding for supper, only 13 hours of internet usage a day or at worst, taking away his Porsche for two days out of the week. Sending him to prison will only tell the little people there is a just justice system in our beloved socialist slave state. That can never happen other wise the untermenschen will want justice if and when they arrested. So let us all put away our complaints about how Mr. Brock evaded justice because justice is rightfully reserved for our obvious betters enslaving us all.

    1. You’re really smart.

  15. He is being punished about right. The problem is that the law mandates that a big chunk of the punishment be registering as a sex pervert for the rest of his life. When judges and juries give sentences they rightly consider the entire effect the sentence will have on the defendant’s life. And being a registered sex offender is to most people a very serious punishment. So, judges and juries are likely going to give less jail time in these sorts of cases because they are aware of the added punishment of having to register.

    This has a horribly perverse effect. Because of registration, the offender who is a continuing threat to society gets out jail and is a threat to society again sooner than they otherwise would have. Understand, that having to register has no effect whatsoever on some who is serial predator. Meanwhile, the person who does something awful and for whatever reason repents and is no longer a threat to society is stuck registering for the rest of their life and has no hope of ever fully rehabilitating themselves back into society.

    Sex offender registries have had the perverse effect of enabling serious offenders to offend more and be out of society for less times and preventing those who do actually repent and learn from their acts from ever recovering from it. They basically reward the worst and punish those who do better.

    1. Registries are clearly unconstitutional too. Don’t forget that. No matter what the corrupt justices decide incorrectly.

  16. I would also like to comment that the criminal justice system really should not be in the business of trying to rehabilitate anyone.

    There are obvious limits to the state’s power to “rehabilitate” anybody, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to at least offer prisoners access to tools which could make it easier for them to make their way successfully. I don’t believe anybody should walk out of prison unable to read, for example.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      The state doesn’t rehabilitate anyone. They rehabilitate themselves. And society has an interest in them doing that. So, the state should offer people the opportunity to rehabilitate if they choose to do so. Unless we are just going to lock people up and never let them out, it makes no sense not to give them every opportunity to rehabilitate and not reoffend once they get out.

      1. Prisons are for punishing people who did bad things. If you want to teach people shit, prisons are the wrong venue.

        1. You can do both. You want them to have the opportunity to do better.

          1. Are you one of the people that calls public schools prisons?

            Whether or not you can do both, you shouldn’t be trying to do both at the same time? If you find that there are prisoners that honestly are trying to make themselves better, move them to a different facility that is more conducive to learning. Let them finish out their sentences in a lower security facility that is setup for education.

    2. Its like you’ve never watched A Clockwork Orange to the end.

  17. I still haven’t got past the “pine needles in the vagina” part.

    1. Better than a vagina made of pine needles.

    2. The pine needles were in her hair.

  18. Most people are outraged?and for good reason. Turner’s sentence was incredibly lenient to begin with.

    People talk about this as “Woman is unconscious somewhere on the Stanford campus, for unspecified reasons. Man by chance comes across her and rapes her.”

    As I understood it, what actually happened was “Drunk woman and drunk man meet at party and decide to go home together. They start making out on the way home. Woman loses consciousness somewhere between second and third base. Man doesn’t stop.”

    I don’t see the two situations as morally or legally equivalent.

  19. According to the NCMEC map there are over 851,870 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bate-n-switch internet stings and many others.
    Families (wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members) experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant….all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals state are needed for successful re-integration; a job, a place to live and a good support system. Vicki Henry, Women Against Registry

  20. Being on the sex offender registry is not a life long punishment? WHATEVER!! Tell that to the sex workers and clients who were engaging in consensual sexual commerce who end up on their states sex offender registry how they feel about that.

    Have YOU ever tried to rent or be employed under such circumstances? Obviously not. It IS a lifelong sentence!

    Sometimes it’s absolutely justified but that damn registry also serves to persecute people whose private choices don’t align with popular ‘morality’. But even in the case of people like this Brock- his life is screwed unless he is given breaks from his daddy’s friends. Otherwise he won’t be climbing any social ladders with ease.

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  24. I hope he fails to registers so they can reamed him in prison where he belong.

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  27. I agree with the other commenters who discussed the seriousness of being on the sex offender registry list. Mr. Turner will have a difficult time finding any college or university that will take him. In addition, registry lists are punishment which we pretend is regulation, paraphrasing what Scott Greenfield has pointed out at his blog.

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