Investigation Related to Rape and the Rule of Law
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When was the last time you read about a rape trial or investigation in the news? Brock Turner, perhaps? Maybe Brett Kavanaugh? A plethora of articles on a myriad of cases float around internet, but why is this? Quite likely it is because the manner in which rape is currently dealt with in the United States violates the principle of due process as it is presented in the Rule of Law.
One way the current management of rape violates the Rule of Law can be found in the fact that punishments for rape are not enforced often enough; the legal process is often applied unfairly because, generally, punishments are not administered as they should be. For every 1000 rapes which occur in the United States, around 310 rapes are reported, approximately 6 of the perpetrators are incarcerated, and only 57 of the perpetrators will even be arrested (“Criminal Justice”). Although this is in part due to the fact that many rapes go unreported and that evidence is difficult to produce, this shows that not all is as it should be. Even when only reported rapes are studied, it can quickly be seen that less than 20 percent of reported perpetrators are arrested and less than 2 percent are incarcerated. I have a friend who was raped while on a school-sponsored trip; she reported her rape immediately, but her case was dismissed without so much as a trial despite her being a minor. All this evidences that the punishments for rape are not commonly enforced, which does nothing to discourage future rapes and leaves the victims without justice on those who have wronged them.
In addition to the punishments for rape not being widely enforced, the punishments
are also not particularly standardized, thus making it easier for prejudice within the justice system. Each state has its own definition of rape and of sexual assault and other such crimes; some states, such as Colorado, do not even have a clear legal definition for rape (“Rape Definitions”). This contributes to the lack of standardized punishments. Additionally, punishments for rape can vary widely by region; “first-degree rape in Alabama is punishable by imprisonment of no fewer than ten years and as many as ninety-nine years… In the state of New York, the punishment for first-degree rape is five to twenty-five years in prison” (“Rape”). Because the definitions of and punishments for rape are so far from standardized, it is difficult for the punishments to be standardly enforced. As such, the principle of due process is once again violated.
Many rape trials do not apply the legal process impartially. Celebrities and politicians particularly seem to be among those who receive lesser sentences, if any sentence at all, for rape and other sexual harassment. Additionally, according to a study conducted by CNN, college athletes who are first time offenders are often hardly charged or are not charged at all in rape cases (“Rape”). This violates the principle of due process in that the judicial process is not applied impartially – it is prejudiced toward those in positions of power and those who are favored by society.
The way rape is addressed in the United States today is in direct violation of the Rule of Law. Debates and arguments and disputes are plentiful due to the treatment of rape not adhering to the Rule of Law. The way rape is currently handled is no minor violation of the Rule of Law; there are multiple ways in which the principle of due process is disregarded.