California Activists Oppose Harsher Punishment for Child Rapists Because 'Marginalized Communities'

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One would think that legislation aimed at protecting children from being sex trafficked would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some in California who opposed a law that would increase penalties for those who solicit minors for sex.

Currently, this offense is classified as a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail or a minimum of two days with a $10,000 fine. The new law would upgrade the offense to a felony that would impose a sentence of up to four years in prison with a $25,000 fine.

At a hearing, several LGBTQ activists voiced their opposition to the measure, arguing that it would somehow target members of the LGBTQ community and racial minorities.

The bipartisan measure, SB1414, would make it a felony offense for an adult to solicit or pay for sex with a minor. Amendments to the measure require that those accused of soliciting sex with minors aged 16 or 17 can only be charged with the increased penalty if the minor has been a victim of sex trafficking.

Several activists in attendance at the hearing asked committee members to oppose the bill due to the way it allegedly harms “marginalized communities.”

“I’d like to acknowledge the survivors [of sex trafficking] here today and name that we all have the shared goal of protecting children from harm,” Isabella Borgeson from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights said. “We are concerned that the harsher penalties contained in this bill will disproportionately impact marginalized communities, particularly Black and brown individuals who already bear the brunt of systemic biases within our criminal justice system.”

Kellie Walters of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children argued that “the harsher penalties proposed in this bill will disproportionately impact marginalized communities, especially members of the LGBTQ community who already suffer from systematic biases within the criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to sexually-based offenses.”

Assemblymember Tom Lackey said he found the opposition “to be very difficult to swallow” and referred to it as “misguided, misdirected” sympathy.

“Overly punitive?” he said. “That’s insulting to victims.”

For starters, the opposition to the measure is about as depraved as it gets. The notion that this bill would disproportionately target members of the LGBTQ community and racial minorities is not only absurd, it is insulting to these demographics. But let’s say for argument that this is a possibility. If the law is enforced in a biased manner, the solution is to address the bias, not support lenient punishment for people who rape children.

Still, the activists didn’t provide any evidence that such a bias would be an issue with this particular legislation, which causes one to wonder: What is their true motivation? The fact that this crime was classified as a misdemeanor in the first place is already ridiculous. Harsh punishments for those who victimize children are appropriate for the vast majority of Americans. Perhaps those who spoke out against the measure don’t have as much of a problem with this type of crime. Fortunately, they are a small minority.

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