More demonstrators gathered later Friday morning across the street from the jail outside the Santa Clara Hall of Justice. Many held signs calling for the recall of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who has been widely criticized for handing down the six-month jail sentence on three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison, and prosecutors had asked for a six-year sentence.
"This sentence also sent a dangerous message," said Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor who is leading a campaign to place a recall measure for Persky on the November 2017 ballot. "To victims of sexual violence it sent the message, 'Don’t bother to call the police because you will not get justice.' And to potential perpetrators it sent the message, 'Don’t worry the courts will have your back.'”
An online petition calling for Perksy's removal from the bench has more than 1.3 million signatures. Last week, Persky asked to be reassigned to civil court, and earlier this week, he launched his own campaign against his recall.
Before Turner was set free, Smith told the large media contingent waiting outside the jail that the former Stanford student would receive "no special treatment" in his release. Smith also made clear her support for AB 2888, a bill passed by the state Legislature this week that would bar judges from granting probation in sexual assault cases where the victim was unconscious or intoxicated.
"As the sheriff of Santa Clara County and a mother, I believe that the interests of justice are best served by ensuring that sexual predators are sent to prison as punishment for their crime," Smith wrote in an open letter to Gov. Jerry Brown encouraging him to sign the bill into law. "Victims of these types of sexual assaults struggle for years to cope with the damage done to their lives, and knowing that there is a more just punishment to those that perpetrated these assaults may provide some solace to these victims."