After serving just three months on sexual assault charges, Brock Turner was released from jail on Friday. Turner was sentenced to six months in a county jail in Santa Clara, California, on June 2, though even at that time, there was the possibility that he would be released early for good behavior. The judge who sentenced Turner, Judge Aaron Persky, said at the time that a sentencing of longer than six months "would have a severe impact on him," adding, "I think he will not be a danger to others."
Persky has since removed himself from hearing criminal cases, after receiving severe criticism, and a recall campaign was launched over his ruling in Turner's case. However, Turner was still released after three months, and it's a slap in the face to survivors of sexual violence. It's not that the criminal justice system has ever supported victims of sexual abuse adequately, or that jail or prison will somehow rehabilitate a perpetrator of such violence — many women have learned from far too many cases that if we want to see changes in how this world values women, it's likely not going to happen within the so-called justice system.
But Turner's lenient sentencing simply perpetuates the notion that our society does not take women's assaults seriously, and it also exemplifies the power and privilege of being a white male.
Even though Turner will be released early, there is at least one significant update in his case that should not be overlooked. Back in July, it was reported that Turner would be required to attend drug and alcohol counseling and would be subjected to random drug tests. There was no discussion at the time about requiring counseling or therapy.
However, CNN reported that Turner is required to complete three years of probation as a sex offender upon his return to his hometown of Sugarcreek Township, Ohio. In addition to his probation, Turner will complete a "sex offender management program," which could consist of group counseling for sexual abusers, according to CNN.
What is most appalling is the reasoning from the start behind Turner's lenient sentencing and whether he has since realized the severity of his actions. Persky suggested that Turner would not be a danger to anyone else. Turner's father even wrote a letter to the court suggesting that a longer sentence would be a "steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action." And Turner's own statement revealed remorse over drinking, partying, and peer pressure, while not once expressing the same sentiment over sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The victim's response noted, "Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct."
Turner's early release is not justice for sexual assault survivors. Again — it's just a slap in the face.
Image: Mary Rabun/Bustle (1)