So, Warren Jeffs has been convicted to life in prison for sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl and 20 years in prison for assaulting a 15-year-old. Good. Thank God. Still, I can't help but think that one of the reasons why his punishment was so severe...I mean fitting... is because of all the press his case has gotten over the months, and the fact that he was the leader of a fundamentalist cult involving thousands of followers.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the national average length of sentencing for sex offenders is 64 months (5 years 4 months). Statistically speaking, most sex offenders are convicted of child sexual abuse (about 70% - DOJ Bureau of Justice Stats) Of course, every case is different; not every child sex offender is like Warren Jeffs, but when you take into account the fact that these child victims are wounded for life and that there is a chance the offender will re-offend (and may not get caught since many victims do not report) the short average sentencing begins to look a bit strange.
So, what conclusion can we draw from this situation? It's obvious to me that tougher sentencing is needed, but it probably won't deter future child sex offenders since this group of individuals don't think about the consequences of their actions. Let us not forget that the CDC did a famous study in 2006, where they interviewed adults to find that 1 in 4 of the women and 1 in 6 of the men were sexually assaulted in some way before age 18. There is a great deal of child sex abuse going on right now that is not being reported. Let's be thankful that justice was served in cases like Jeffs and the internet child porn ring, but let's continue to encourage victims to speak out. The more victims that speak out, the more people realize it's a severe problem that requires stronger punishment.
If more victims realize that it was not their fault and that they can help protect other children from being victimized, then we can all enjoy a safer society. If you have been or are currently being victimized, or you know someone who is, you do have the power to make it stop and bring the perpetrator to justice.