INVOICES, Mont. (AP) – Prosecutors are working to reinstate Montana's mandatory 25-year prison sentence for the conviction of certain sex crimes against children.
State lawmakers plan to take action advocated by the Montana County Attorneys Association to set the highest minimum for sexual abuse of victims aged 12 and under, the Billings Gazette reported Saturday. .
The state legislature in 2017 has reduced the minimum to 10 years as part of a larger sentence reform bill.
Proponents of the measure argue that a heavier sentence is needed to restore greater protection for victims, who benefit from the prolonged confinement of their abusers.
The higher mandatory minimum would apply to convictions for sexual intercourse without consent, incest and sexual abuse of children.
The measure would keep the five possible exceptions from the current law to the mandatory minimum, said Dan Guzynski, head of the prosecutor's office of the Attorney General's office. One of the exceptions is available in cases where the author is under 18 years of age.
The Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has opposed mandatory minimum sentences for years, said Kelsen Young, the director of the organization. Most sex crimes against children involve someone known to the child, such as a family member or a family friend, she said.
"For some victims, the mandatory minimum is a barrier to reporting and reporting," Young said. The victims want the attacks to stop, but they may not want "the perpetrator to suffer such a punishment," she said.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
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