Monday, April 24, 2006

Why minimum sentences for sex crimes worry prosecutors

Burlington Free Press: Senate committee backs mandatory minimum sentences for sex crimes:

Campbell said he came to believe the 10-year minimum for the most serious sex crimes would not create too much of a burden for prosecutors. He had opposed mandatory minimum sentences, as many prosecutors and victims' advocates do, out of concern that the mandate would force more defendants to take their cases to trial, forcing more victims to testify and creating the possibility of more acquittals because sex crimes can be difficult to prove.
I disagree with this assessment. It isn't so much that there isn't proof that criminal statutes have been broken, it's that many jurors refuse to accept the evidence given to them. Or they buy the defense team's excuses for the criminal behavior enough to rule that there is a reasonable doubt. This is true whether the victim is a stripper or a child.

The raw truth is that the attitudes represented by those who have gone on the attack against the alleged victim in the Duke rape case are the real reason prosecutors and victims advocates are worried about the negative impact of minimum sentences.

Why should those guilty of sex crimes accept a deal with a 10-year sentence when a jury may let them walk?

According to Media Matters Bill O'Reilly says that states without minimum sentences must be sympathetic toward child molesters. If minimum sentences result in more criminals walking free, Mr. O'Reilly doesn't want to know about it.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:29 PM   0 comments links to this post

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