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Why Sending Death Threats To The Stanford Judge Isn't The Answer

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky is having a bad week. The judge rose to notoriety following the news of his outrageously light sentencing of Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault. While the conviction carried a standard penalty of two to 14 years in prison, Persky sentenced Turner to just six months in a county jail. Now, people outraged by the decision are sending death threats to the judge, which is clearly not the answer.

First of all, the answer to violence is never more violence, especially violence that's directed at a third party. Would killing Persky somehow serve to punish Turner, or be a comfort to his victim? Of course not. It's just absurd. If anyone's serious about this, they clearly haven't given it one moment of thought. And the threats certainly could be empty — just a bunch of internet strangers voicing their frustration at a broken system that would allow such a light sentence for such a heinous crime. Unfortunately, death threats, particularly against a judge, must be taken seriously, so the county sheriff's office has been forced to increase its presence at the courthouse, according to Reuters.

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It's also too late for Persky to do anything about the sentence, anyway. Setting aside the fact that this is the real world, not a crime drama, and one can't simply scare a judge into doing what they want, Persky can't change his sentence now that it's been entered. Judges can certainly decrease a sentence for good behavior, but they're only permitted to increase a sentence in order to correct an "arithmetical, technical, or other clear error," according to Cornell University Law School. Surely, some would argue that sympathizing with a privileged, white college athlete who also happens to be a convicted sex offender is a clear error in judgement, but from a legal standpoint, what's done is done.

What we can do is prevent Persky from even handing down such a light sentence again, and it can be done without resorting to violence. Stanford law professor and friend of the victim's family Michele Dauber has spearheaded a recall effort to have Persky removed from the bench, and replaced by "someone who understands violence against women," as she told Democracy Now. According to Dauber's website, the recall effort can't legally begin until 90 days into Persky's new term, which starts in January 2017, but in the mean time, those sympathetic to the cause can donate, volunteer, or sign up for news updates on the site. It's going to take a lot of time and effort, but it can be done. Those who take issue with Persky should put their money where their mouth is, and leave the childish taunts on the playground.