Many cases involving sexual abuse are not taken seriously. We believe that sex offenders should be brought before a jury of their peers and given maximum sentencing. Too many judges and district attorneys across the nation seem to minimize the atrocities committed by abusers. Pleading a case down is far too common, and sentences are often reduced for a variety of irrational reasons.
Two excuses are generally given to explain lenient sentences:
1. If the victim testifies, they'll be re-traumatized.
This is a poor argument. Think about the victim. Nothing could be more empowering than the knowledge that your abuser is locked up - never able to hurt you again.
2. Recidivism for sex crimes is low.
Recidivism is the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend. There are more than 35 million victims of sexual abuse and fewer than 1 million registered sex offenders in the U.S. The disparity between the number of victims and the number of offenders indicates that recidivism studies are not accurate, and that recidivism is actually high for sex offenders.
Judges and district attorneys need to be aware of the many unreported instances of abuse. Childhood sexual trauma is not reported in the great majority of cases because it is difficult for children to process the event. Adults can also become accomplices when they neglect to report abuse, trying to protect their own reputation. Judges need to hear the testimonies from victims of lifelong psychological damage. They need to hear testimonies from reputable therapists who study and treat victims. Hearing more testimonies will help prosecutors and judges to have more empathy for the victims.
Victims of sexual abuse suffer lifelong damage. Violent sex abusers should serve lifelong sentences.