I fully support mandatory life sentences for repeat sex offenders. Any sex offender who completes his (or her) sentence and completes sex offender treatment, then commits another sex crime should receive a mandatory life sentence. Period.
According to the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, sexually-motivated crimes have the lowest rate of recidivism of any crime other than murder (simply because many murderers are never freed to kill again). Despite the hype, less than 5% of all sex offenders ever commit another sex crime; that’s compared to between 30% and 70% for drug, property, and violent crimes. This is a statistical fact.
That being said, sex crimes are highly publicized and have very lasting impacts on victims. I was a victim nearly 20 years ago – I’m still not over it. And because of this, those who commit these crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. And yet, they should also be allowed the opportunity – one opportunity – to live as a solid and productive member of society.
However, when a sex offender is convicted of a second sex crime, there should be no mercy – None.
A guy I went to high school with just went to prison. Back in 2010, he was convicted of possessing child pornography and trying to engage in sex with a minor. He was given probation. Yesterday, he was in court and was sentenced to 254 months in prison for another sex crime: possessing child pornography. 254 month is more than 21 years.
21 years in prison. That’s a long time. I’ve been to prison, and I still can’t wrap my mind around a 21+ year sentence. And yet, as a repeat sex offender, 21 years is not enough time; he should never be let out of prison – ever.
If a person commits a sex offense, there is something seriously wrong with them – there was something seriously wrong with me. But again, the hype is wrong: Sex offender treatment does work. This petulant assumption that it’s “incurable” is ignorant at-best. It has a 95% success rate. But for the mere 5% who commit sex crimes after being treated, there should be three zeros: zero tolerance, zero leniency, and zero freedom.
Perhaps it seems odd that I have this opinion, considering my own conviction, but here’s the thing: yes, I may be an offender myself, but I’m also a husband and a father. And wife and daughter are more important than anything.
Anyone can make a terrible choice, but when it comes to sexually motivated crimes, there can be no third chances.