Brock Turner's mugshot included next to definition of rape in university’s textbook

A criminal justice student at Washington State University found Brock Turner’s mugshot next to the definition of rape in her textbook.

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"He may have been able to get out of prison time but in my Criminal Justice 101 textbook, Brock Turner is the definition of rape, so he's got that goin' for him," Hannah Kendall Shuman wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo.

The textbook is "Introduction to Criminal Justice: Systems, Diversity, and Change 2nd Edition" by Callie Marie Rennison and Mary Dodge.

Shuman, a criminal justice major and pre-law student from Tacoma, said it’s required text for her criminal justice class at Washington State University.

“I was really surprised,” Shuman said of finding Turner’s mugshot in her textbook. “I hate that case, the decision made was clearly so biased. It’s also a great learning tool for students to see how lightly rape is taken in the American legal system.”

Turner was convicted of sexual assault in California. He was released after serving three months of a six-month sentence.

Turner was accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman near a dumpster after a fraternity party. Graduate students spotted him while he was on top of her.

"Thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet," the victim wrote in a 12-page letter. "I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget."

Turner got out early for good behavior in jail. Judge Aaron Persky made the decision to deviate from the minimum sentence of two years in prison.

Questions and answers with author of the criminal justice textbook

KIRO-TV spoke with Callie Rennison, a professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver.

  • Why did you decide to include the Brock Turner case in your textbook?

When we set out to write this textbook, we wanted to incorporate many things we saw missing from existing texts including diversity, attention to victims, and contemporary topics. We also wanted to present a view of the real Criminal Justice system versus the ideal that is discussed in many other books. To accomplish this, we included contemporary topics and material that students routinely ask about. For example, students ask about human and sex trafficking – we included that. Students ask about careers such as being a crime analyst – we included that. Students ask about college student victimization/campus violence – we included that. And related to that topic, students ask about Mr. Turner.

Mr. Turner has received a great deal of media coverage. There was widespread coverage in the media and in classrooms about the fact that he served three months of a six-month sentence. Most viewed this sentence as too lenient. Others were shocked that Mr. Turner served three months because most perpetrators of sexual violence serve no jail or prison time. The media coverage, the fact that he is asked about by students, and the general outrage of the sentence he served is why Mr. Turner shows up in the text – this incident offers a real teaching moment.

  • How do you think the way the definition of rape has changed over time?

Many have asked about the terms used in the text: rape versus sexual assault. It is important to recognize that there is no consistent use of these terms across law enforcement jurisdictions. One may use sexual assault to refer to the exact same act that another jurisdiction uses to refer to rape. This lack of consistency has long been recognized and is part of the reason that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and later the FBI, developed the Uniform Crime Reporting System. It standardizes crimes. Based on this work, and in our own research, rape involves nonconsensual penetration using any body part or any object (or attempted penetration). Sexual assault is generally reserved for non-penetrative actions. These standardized definitions are used by the FBI and other agencies in the Department of Justice.

The statutory definitions of rape in the State of California (where Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault) differ from those of the FBI as noted in the textbook. Turner’s actions, as determined by the California jury, fit the standards for the FBI definition of rape, as well as certain other state definitions, but not the California definition as of the time of the final book manuscript. It is important to note the California legislature passed AB701 after the Turner case to amend the California rape statute and added a section to its Penal Code stating that “all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault may be considered rape.”

  • What made you pursue a career in criminal justice?

I ended up in this area because I love data and methods. I took a position at the Department of Justice where I started conducting criminology/criminal justice research using the National Crime Victimization Survey (which is a really interesting data set) which offers data on property and violent crimes in the United States. Working with these data has been really great from a data/methods standpoint. After leaving Justice, I moved into academia.

  • What changes would you personally like to see in the way criminal rape cases are handled in the United States?

I would like for rape cases in the United States to be treated in the same way that other acts of violence are treated. I would like for victims to feel safe coming forward to report these incidents with the expectation that they won’t have to prove they didn’t want to be victimized. I’d like the focus of all violent acts to be on the choices of the offender, and not on the choices of the victim.

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