California Democrat blames absurd 1872 rape law on prison overcrowding

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 23:49 EDT
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California State Senator Loni Hancock screenshot
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The Democratic chairwoman of the California Senate Committee on Public Safety said her committee killed a bill to clarify that an unmarried woman could be raped because of prison overcrowding.

“We are walking that tight-rope between a federal court order to reduce our prison population by tens of thousands of prisoners and a mandate not to build any new prisons either because we can’t afford it,” State Sen. Loni Hancock told CNN.

The law was recently brought into the national spotlight after a California appeals court overturned the rape conviction of a man charged with raping a sleeping woman. The law stated that a man who induces a victim into sexual activity by impersonating her partner is only guilty of felony rape if the man impersonated her husband.

The California State Assembly had unanimously passed a bill to extend the same protections to unmarried women, but the California Senate Committee on Public Safety let the bill languish.

Under a policy known as Receivership/Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation (ROCA), the Senate Committee on Public Safety has since 2007 placed a hold on any legislation that could contribute to severe overcrowding in California’s prisons, such as measures that create a new felony. The policy was adopted amid a legal battle over the overpopulation of California’s prisons, which the U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled was cruel and unusual punishment.

Jann Taber, a spokeswoman for California State Sen. Joel Anderson (R), told CNN that the policy was appropriate at one point, but is now being abused.

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by CNN, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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