A recent, scathing report on Minnesota’s justice system reveals a startling and infuriating leniency toward sexual crimes committed against children, with most child predators being merely slapped on the wrist with probation.
The report, published last month by Alpha News, states that prosecutors in the state do indeed have access to tough penalties for child predators, “but the actual record of sentencing isn’t strong.”
In Hennepin county, about half of offenders with victims under age 13 are given a stay, or probation, and did not serve prison time at all. When probation was given, 30% of offenders received a stay of imposition and had their charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Such a reduction often allows the offender’s history to remain hidden from both parents and employers, placing even more children in serious danger.
The other 70% were given straight probation. And of the nearly 50% of offenders, about 99% served less than a year in jail.
Meanwhile, in Anoka County, county attorney Tony Polumbo is only giving prison sentences 38% of the time for criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under age 13. 61% of predators are granted a stay, with a quarter of these having their charges reduced and serving little or no jail time.
In Washington County, probation is given 57% of the time. In Blue Earth County, it’s 52%. In Martin County, led by county attorney Terry Viesselman, probation is given a staggering 75% of the time.
Alpha News explains these sickening statistics:
Prosecutors counter that they are only following the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Washington County attorney Pete Orput said as much last year, responding to criticism that his office was soft on child predators. But Mr. Orput happens to be one of 11 members on the Sentencing Guidelines Commission, and prosecutors have a huge say in how tough the Guidelines are.
By the way, the state legislature has asked the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to reexamine penalties for cases of sexual violence against children. Yet a reexamination doesn’t ensure any meaningful change.
Prosecutors also cite the difficulty in summoning a child witness in court, something Alpha News says is no excuse when it comes to cases of offenders being caught with child abuse images: “If an offender is in possession of these child exploitation materials, prosecutors only need a technical expert to take the stand. It’s an open and shut case.”
Data published by the National Association to Protect Children signals that at least 55% of those who are found possessing and sharing child abuse images are also “contact offenders” or “dual offenders” with physical child victims. “In other words,” Alpha News declares, “these bad-guys aren’t just a threat to children around them, they are often actively abusing a child.”
So why, then, is Minnesota is granting stays or probation 90 percent of the time for criminals caught with child abuse images?
To make matters even worse, only 2-7% of known suspects are being investigated due to a lack of resources thanks to state and federal governments repeatedly underfunding their Internet Crimes Against Children taskforces. This results not only in a failure to catch the offenders but to actually rescue the children being harmed.
“In the end,” Alpha News concludes, “sunlight may be the best disinfectant.”
“Minnesotans should demand answers from their legislators, and carefully crafted minimums especially for the exploitation of children should be pursued,” the outlet declares. “But citizens can also demand answers from their county attorneys, who run prosecutions in the state of Minnesota… Both local prosecutors, and state legislators, are elected by the people.”
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