Ohio senators of both parties passed Ohio’s version of “Jessica’s Law,” mandating prison terms of 25 years to life for the rape of a child under 13, and 15 years to life for the attempted rape of a minor, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Senate also required a mandatory prison term for offenders convicted of sexual battery against a child under 13. The House is expected to agree today.
The bills passed over the objections of an improbable coalition of prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys, who warned the stampeding legislators that mandatory terms would have the opposite effect of their intent. “Mandatory sentencing appeals to the popular magic-bullet-minded notion of ‘Let’s get tough on crime,’ ” said Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Dan Hogan, a former prosecutor. “I warn you that all these good but misguided intentions will not help.” Making the attempted rape of a child punishable by a term of 15 years to life, he said, mirrors the current sentence for murder, assuring that defendants will roll the dice and take cases to trial. That will “disarm” prosecutors, he said, by forcing them to try weak “he said/she said” cases that rely on the testimony of traumatized children.