South Bay state Sen. Ted Lieu is blaming Sacramento and its drive to cut prison overcrowding for legislators' failure to plug a glaring and embarrassing loophole in California rape law.
This all goes back to last week's amazing story of California's Second District Appellate Court and its decision to let an L.A. man have a new trial because his rape conviction involved impersonating a boyfriend and not a husband.
California's circa-1872 rape law ...
... protects only married women in such a circumstance -- where a suspect somehow has sex with a victim under the false pretense of being her mate. And efforts to change the crusty old language have been failures.
In fact, Lieu blames the 2007 campaign of then-Sen. Gloria Romero to essentially shelve all legislation in Sacramento that creates new felony laws.
The idea of the Receivership/Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation (ROCA) policy, it seems, was to stop making new and redundant felony-level laws for a state filled with them (and filled with overcrowded prisons ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to slim down in the name of convicts' human rights).
But Lieu says the ROCA policy has gone too far, particularly in blocking helpful new legislation in the case of California's rape law.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the powerful union representing LAPD cops, is backing Lieu's views on this. It published his take:
ROCA (Receivership/Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation) was started by Senator Gloria Romero in 2007. She essentially held up every single bill that might increase a felon's prison time by even one day.
Her reasoning was that this was necessary to alleviate prison overcrowding. One problem is that ROCA is a blanket approach that does not distinguish between a rapist and a drug user, or a murderer and a thief. Regardless of the heinousness of the crime, any new felony or increase in penalties will never even be allowed to come up for a vote.
The case of Julio Morales involves a 2009 encounter at a Cerritos house party in which the 18-year-old victim was possibly drunk and asleep and believed initially that he was her boyfriend.
The appeals court said the law did not protect the victim in this case -- that the letter of the law said only rapists impersonating husbands were covered.
The police union:
Changing this law should be a high priority of the new legislative session in Sacramento. The ROCA policy of the Senate that has gotten in the way of rationalizing California's Penal Code must be set aside to allow it to happen.
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