California Downgrades Some Types of Rape as Non-Violent Crime

rape victim

Criminals with “non-violent” offenses may now be released from prison early – PLUS some rape crimes that were once considered violent are now moved to the “non-violent” classification – in a new bill that’s on the California ballot.

A new California annual report on crime for 2015 revealed a 10% increase in violent crimes from 2014.   The report, released by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, also revealed a 36% increase in rape attacks under the violent crime category, with 12,739 victims in 2015. 

The report described all the specific assaults that are classified as rape, under violent crimes.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Harris gave a very different description of what will be considered violent crimes under Governor Jerry Brown’s new “Prison and Criminal Justice overhaul” that will be on the ballot in November.

The new criminal sentencing measure allows certain non-violent felons to seek early parole and permits the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to credit prisoners for good behavior.

The measure states, “Any person convicted of a nonviolent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term for his or her primary offense.”

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Related:  Public OUTRAGE Over Light Sentence to Stanford Rapist[/pullquote]

Under the new guidelines, rape under violent crimes is only defined as “sexual intercourse by force, violence, extortion or threat.”

Excluded from that definition are other forms of rape and sexual assaults that Harris’ crime report had previously considered as violent crimes.  

The result – now criminals committing these “non-violent” offenses will be eligible for early parole in California.

CA Attorney General Harris’ explanation: “The term ‘nonviolent felony offense’ comes from the language of the governor’s sentencing measure itself. If the measure is approved by voters, it remains to be seen how ‘nonviolent felony’ will be defined.”


Sacramento BeeBrown’s measure was cleared for the ballot – thanks to a generous decision by the state Supreme Court on its irregular drafting – just as the Capitol exploded with indignation about the light penalty on former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner for three counts of sexual assault of an intoxicated young woman.

Turner faced as many as 14 years in prison but received just six months in jail. Two convictions were for sexual penetration of an unconscious or inebriated victim – crimes that are violent felonies in Harris’ annual crime report but are not considered violent felonies under Brown’s measure for which she provided the “nonviolent” summary.

Harris, a U.S. Senate candidate, was mildly critical of Turner’s sentence, but legislators denounced it and quickly introduced a bill to prohibit probation for the crimes Turner committed and other sexual assaults.

One can easily criticize the judge who gave Turner such a light sentence – but shouldn’t we also include those who play political games with slippery definitions of violent crime?


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