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Victims' Advocates Call For Harsher Sex Offender Sentences

Last updated on Friday, June 7, 2013

(UNDATED) - Some victims’ advocates complain too many sex offenders are getting off easy in court.

Sentences for sex crimes in Indiana can range anywhere from probation to 50 years, with narrower sentencing ranges determined by the specific charge, the victim's age, the use of a weapon, any injury to the victim, and other circumstances of a particular case and defendant.

Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault CEO Anita Carpenter says those ranges are appropriate. But she contends prosecutors are overly willing to strike plea bargains which wipe away a potential sex-crime conviction in favor of a more general charge such as battery, which means the offenders' names aren't added to state and federal sex-offender registries.

Carpenter believes such plea deals are a factor in the state's low conviction rate in sex-crime cases. A legislative study in 2005 found just nine-percent of sex-crime prosecutions produced convictions for sex offenses.

Carpenter also says prosecutors should be more willing to charge underage defendants as adults. Offenders convicted as juveniles must be released by age 21. Carpenter says the juvenile system's focus on mental health and treatment is appropriate, but says offenders still need a tough enough sentence to communicate the seriousness of their actions.

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