Moscow–Pullman Daily News editorial: Time to revisit sex offender sentencing

Moscow-Pullman Daily News | May 16, 2007

Time to revisit sex offender sentencing

Time to revisit sex offender sentencing

Victims of crime expect and deserve justice.

Victims often suffer the tragic consequences of a crime long after the trial and incarceration of the guilty.

Sentencing is predicated on many factors, including the type of crime and an offender’s record. The worse the crime, the longer the time.

That’s not quite how it works in Idaho, and that must change.

It is expected that murderers will spend longer in jail than someone who steals a loaf of bread.

Likewise, you would expect a sex offender to spend more time locked up than a person convicted of a drunken brawl. In Idaho, though, that sex offender could be back on the street in less than two years.

Recently, a man convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor child under the age of 16 was released on parole after serving 20 months of a life sentence. He is a first-time offender.

The average time in an Idaho prison for any sex offender is about 42 months.

We believe the system is broken if it allows such short sentences.

Child molestation is a heinous crime. The victim usually knows the perpetrator and is trusting of that person.

The molester violates that trust and robs the child of so much more we hold important.

Prison is the preferred form of vengeance in our society. Prison also is supposed to “rehabilitate” the offender.

Serving 20 months hardly will achieve either result.

The victim and victim’s family must be able to feel secure in their lives as they adjust to post-crime life. Often it takes years of therapy. Knowing the person who assaulted you is back on the streets is of little comfort.

We don’t advocate locking every sex offender away for life without parole.

If, however, the legal system continues to utilize prison as its main source of deterrent and retribution then use it like you mean it.

The number of sex-abuse cases involving children are increasing. Something must be done to bring down that number. The problem will not go away if the offenders are walking the streets with monitors on their ankles.

By Murf Raquet, for the editorial board