No Jail Time for Dozens of Convicted Rapists in Massachusetts
A Boston Globe review of court system statistics in Massachusetts found that more than three dozen convicted rapists have received no time in prison for their crimes.
The review, published on Thursday, examined 305 rape convictions over a 12-year period, from July 2001 through June 2013. Jail sentences weren’t handed out in 42 of the cases, despite the fact that several of the defendants had considerable criminal histories.
The data, which came from reports by the Executive Office of the Trial Court, showed that 30 of the defendants who didn’t receive prison time had no prior convictions or had records for only minor offenses. However, two of the defendants had records for “repetitive” or “violent” convictions while the remaining 10 had either “moderate” or “serious” records.
State sentencing guidelines in Massachusetts suggests a minimum sentence of five years in prison for people convicted of rape, although judges aren’t required by law to follow the recommendation. Most convicted rapists in the state tend to get between five and 10 years in jail, according to the review, while those with more serious criminal records tend to receive longer sentences.
The Globe suggests that one possible reason for why some convicted rapists are able to avoid jail time is due to plea bargains. Prosecutors who feel like they have a weak case may opt to offer a plea bargain or another type of lesser sentence in order to secure a guilty plea. Another possibility is that some victims may ask the judge not to incarcerate their assailant because they know the person who attacked them.
Overall, the review found that 14 percent of convicted rapists in Massachusetts received no prison time, which is slightly higher than the national average of 11 percent for large urban counties, according to a recent federal study.