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Should minors convicted for sex crimes be given harsher sentences?




Senator Jim Beall authored SB 131 that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse in California.
Senator Jim Beall authored SB 131 that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse in California.
Sammy Dee/Flickr

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California's Assembly Public Safety Committee is slated to vote on a proposed bill tomorrow that would give mandatory sentences to minors convicted of sexually assaulting unconscious or disabled victims.

SB 838, or Audrie’s Law, is named after Audrie Pott, a Bay Area teenager who committed suicide nearly two years ago after she passed out and was sexually assaulted by three 16-year-old boys. The perpetrators took and shared photos of the assault via social media. The three boys received light sentences for the attack, because they were all minors at the time.

In addition to a two-year mandatory sentence, the proposed law would require the convicted minor to serve an additional one year if photos or texts of the assault had been taken or shared. More than 140,000 people have signed a Change.org petition supporting the bill, which passed the state Senate unanimously.

Opponents of the bill, including groups such as the Sacramento-based California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the California County Public Defender, say the bill is too harsh and one-size-fits-all.

The committee hearing for the bill was set for last week but was postponed to tomorrow by committee chair Tom Ammiano, who called for the bill to be amended to increase its chances of passage.

Guests:

Jim Beall (D-San Jose), California State Senator representing Senate District 15, which includes the cities of Cupertino, Los Gatos, and the San Jose communities of Evergreen, East San Jose. He is the author of SB 838, also called Audrie’s Law

Jeff Adachi, Public Defender of the City and County of San Francisco. Adachi is the states only elected public defender