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.
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