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A woman is raped in the United States every six minutes. Almost 20 percent of all women will be the victim of a rape or an attempted rape during the course of their lives. Nearly half of the victims will be under the age of 18. It's beyond sickening. But at least there's justice for the victims, right?

Wrong. In those cases where we are actually able to convict the rapist, he is looking at an average sentence of only nine years, and an average time served of only five years.

So while their victims are suffering from profound and possibly lifelong psychological trauma, the rapists are playing sports at lunch, lifting weights in the afternoon, dining a la carte in the evenings and watching television at night.

That's not justice. That's an insult.

Since prisoners are afforded so many luxuries, for jail to even constitute a meaningful punishment for rape, it has to rob the convict of a significant portion of his life. Five years doesn't cut it-doesn't even come close. Not to mention that for the many equal-opportunity rapists, prison would practically be a reward. So what do we do?

The first step is to put the death penalty on the table. Execution must be an option. While states do provide more severe sentences for rapes deemed to be especially vile, such as rape under the threat of violence (often classified as first degree rape) or the rape of a child, these punishments are just not severe enough. They are actually rather weak. Those who commit rape in the first degree or who rape a child should be put to death. It's as simple as that.

Instead, many states have low or no minimum sentences in these cases and maximum sentences as light as 20 years. Plus, rape convicts serve on average only 56 percent of their sentences, and of all rape convicts released, 40 percent will commit another sex crime.

Misguided compassion has led to devastating consequences.

There must be no tolerance for this heinous, inhuman act. Those who prey upon the women and children of this nation should expect no mercy. We must not confuse criminal rights with leniency.

Rapists have no constitutional right to a second chance. It is up to God to forgive such detestable scum; it is up to us to make sure they never see the light of day again.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has been an obstacle in efforts to deal justice to rapists. In 1977 the high court's activist judges ruled in Coker v. Georgia that the sovereign states of the union had no right to put any man to death for raping a woman.

The reasoning? Such a punishment would be "grossly disproportionate" to the crime and therefore in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Really? Grossly disproportionate? I would say that executing a man for petty theft or vandalism would be grossly disproportionate.

Not executing a man for breaking into a woman's home, holding her at knifepoint, then violently raping her in front of her husband-the case in question before the court.

To so utterly, maliciously and sadistically violate a woman absolutely deserves a punishment of death. If anything, the painless exit of a lethal injection is insufficient.

God forbid, if someone I cared about were raped, and I were able to get my hands on the rapist, I'd take them apart piece by piece.

Since the court's decision does not cover the rape of children, in the five states where rapists can face death, those who turn innocent children into objects of sexual torture can be executed.

Frighteningly, one in six acts of rape is in fact perpetrated against a child under twelve. All states should be pushed to make child rape a capital offense. At the same time, we should get justices on the bench who will correct the irresponsible Coker v. Georgia decision so that anyone who commits first-degree rape can be put to death.

Moreover, the sentences for all classes of rape and sexual assault should be increased across the board and harsh minimum sentences imposed.

There is no excuse for letting thousands of sexual offenders back onto the streets every year to begin hunting for more victims.

If we want to fight this epidemic, our message must be loud and clear-commit heinous acts of sexual assault, and you will find no mercy.

Try to take a woman's dignity or a child's innocence, and we will take your life.

That is justice.

Stephen Miller is a Trinity junior. His column runs every other Tuesday.


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