Sex crimes, including rape and sexual exploitation of children, are among the most heinous acts perpetrated in our society. Convicted offenders deserve to punished - and, depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime and offender - punished harshly.
Most sex offenses are prosecuted at the state level. Federal law also prohibits certain sex offenses, especially those involving travel across state lines to engage in illegal sex acts. In 2010, only 640 individuals were convicted of sex crimes at the federal level.
Many states and the federal government rely on mandatory minimum sentences to ensure stiff punishment for those individuals convicted of sex crimes. In many instances, the sentence lengths imposed by these laws are appropriate. As with all mandatory minimums, however, these one-size-fits-all penalties do not allow for individual consideration of unique circumstances and unique offenders. As a result, harsh mandatory sentences are sometimes imposed for misconduct that was not contemplated by the authors of the mandatory minimum laws.
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