In Minnesota, People Who Sexually Abuse Children Are Usually Given Just Probation By Willis L. Krumholz for The Federalist
Treating child predation like a disease has put too much focus on rehabilitating criminals and too little focus on keeping children safe.
The good people of America were rightly furious when news emerged last month that an Iowa man convicted of molesting more than a dozen children — ranging in ages from one to 13 — would be released because he was undergoing transgender hormone therapy. Americans would be even shocked to know that the leniency shown to the Iowa predator is not an exception. It’s more like the rule.
That’s because this country often treats child predation like an illness. Yes, these predators are “sick,” and many suffered abuse as children. But treating the problem like a disease has put too much focus on rehabilitating criminals and too little focus on keeping children safe.
Consider that a man who rapes an adult woman is sick also. Yet just imagine the uproar if such a criminal were sent to expensive rehabilitation, serving only a few months in jail. All sorts of activist groups would cry foul, and the story would get national media attention, which would shame the judge and prosecutor.
Nobody argues an offender against an adult needs “rehabilitation.” They correctly argue for the offender to be thrown in jail, and for the jail key to be sunk to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Not so for cases involving children. They have no voice, few lobbyists, and little state-level data to document crimes against them. Where data is available, it shows America is failing children.
States Aren’t Tough on Child Predators
In 2016, the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT) spent tens of thousands of dollars compiling sentencing data from 2007 to 2016 for one state, Minnesota. PROTECT’s sentencing data for crimes against children are separated into three buckets: criminal sexual conduct (rape), child sexual abuse imagery, and trafficking.
Right off the bat, the reader should notice that trafficking is not the entire threat. Here, the national conversation has so far missed the point. The media gives a lot of attention to sex trafficking, especially of minors. Sex trafficking is a huge problem, and more government resources focused on stopping it is a wonderful thing. But too little attention is being paid to the child-predator threat overall.