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The public outrage after a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge sentenced a Stanford University student to six months in jail for sexual assault led California lawmakers to respond in a familiar way.

Two weeks after the sentencing, two Northern California legislators introduced a bill to ensure that anyone convicted of a similar crime in the future would receive a mandatory prison sentence.

“I think we need to make a clear statement to say this is unacceptable,” said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), one of the bill’s authors.

New laws in response to high-profile incidents have contributed to scores of mandatory punishments in California going back decades, decisions that put the state at the forefront of the tough-on-crime movement that led to dramatically increased sentences for criminals but also presaged an era of prison overcrowding that led federal judges to conclude such conditions were unconstitutional.

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