CA’s Audrie’s Law May Show Turning Tide Against Mandatory Sentences


Sheila and Lawrence Pott of California want the state legislature to pass a law named after their daughter, Audrie, a high school sophomore who committed suicide in 2011 after she was sexually assaulted as she lay unconscious at a party by three boys, 15 and 16, who took photos with their cell phones and shared them with schoolmates, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Two of the boys got 30 days in jail, and the other 45 days. Audrie’s Law would toughen laws punishing juveniles convicted of sex offenses against unconscious or disabled victims. Tomorrow, the bill will be taken upbty a committee that refused to approve it last week. The proposal is like many tragedy-spurred bills that wind their way through the state Capitol every year, each bearing the name of a victim whose story is recounted, sometimes through tears, in legislative hearings, in hope of enacting change or closing a loophole in dated laws

Audrie’s Law comes at a time when California is rethinking tough-on-crime laws that drove prison populations to unsustainable levels. Twenty years ago, the legislation might have been embraced without question. Today, critics are warning that the bill goes too far. “There is a visceral reaction to this,” said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who chairs the Public Safety Committee and wants a mandatory sentence removed from the bill. “Do I want to stand up with Audrie? Absolutely, and every other young woman who has been put through this. … I’m not dug in. I don’t like mandatory minimums or a couple other things in this bill.”

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