The judge who sentenced Brock Turner to 6 months in jail has been recalled.

In 2016, Brock Turner was convicted of brutally sexually assaulting a woman. A judge sentenced him to only six months in jail.

Prosecutors had recommended that Turner, who'd sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, be incarcerated for six years. Judge Aaron Persky, however, sentenced Turner to less than one year in jail and three years' probation. Turner was also required to add his name to the national sex offender registry for life.

The mind-bogglingly lenient sentence sparked both a national outrage and conversations about the role that white privilege plays in the court system. Turner's case also brought into stark relief the lack of justice served to sexual assault survivors.


California voters have spoken, and Judge Aaron Persky has been recalled.

Soon after Turner's sentencing, Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor, sociologist, and family friend of Turner's victim, launched a campaign to remove Persky from the bench.

The campaign noted that Persky claimed to have sentenced Turner lightly because alcohol had been involved and the judge feared that time in prison could have a "severe impact" on Turner. This was absurd considering the long-lasting effects that Turner's assault and trial had on the victim, whose heartbreaking impact statement was delivered in court.

"The only thing unusual about this case is that there were eyewitnesses. Otherwise it is like the millions of other sexual assaults occurring on our college campuses every year," the recall site reads. "Virtually every campus assault involves a high-achieving perpetrator and the vast majority involve alcohol. This sentence implies that prison would never be appropriate in most campus assaults."

In June 2018, California showed it was listening. At a time when the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements were surging forward in holding people accountable for sexual violence, it felt only right that voters chose to recall Persky from the bench.

Though the state now imposes mandatory sentences for assaults on people who are intoxicated, unconscious, or otherwise unable to give consent — thereby closing the loophole that allowed this ruling — Persky's recall is not only a step toward justice but a clear message the voices of sexual assault survivors must and will be heard.

Persky's recall is California's first in 86 years. And it's historic for much more than that.

While California has allowed its residents to recall judges by popular vote since 1911, the last time it happened was 1932. Today, it's a reminder that those in power aren't immune to the consequences of their actions. The recall is a loud signal that votes matter. They're changing the way the legal system handles sexual assault — an issue that's been ignored and stigmatized for far too long.

"The vote today — if the numbers hold — is a vote against impunity for high-status offenders of domestic violence and sexual violence," Michele Dauber told The Mercury News. "This victory is not just for Emily Doe, but for girls and women everywhere."

Persky's successor is also likely to bring change to the courts. According to recent statistics from California's judicial branch, the state's judges are overwhelmingly male and white. Cindy Hendrickson, who beat out opponent Angela Storey in the nomination to fill Persky's seat, is committed to representing all citizens of her jurisdiction and has a history of working with clients from marginalized groups.

The recall is an important step, but there's still work to be done.

It's easy — when it feels like justice has been served — to step into a space of complacency. But progress won't happen unless it's spurred forward by action. That's why it's so important that this recall be seen not as a culmination but as one point on the ever-evolving path to progress. There's still so much work to be done to end sexual violence. Let's never forget the tremendous power our voices have.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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