Monday, March 24, 2008

Bail For Sexual Crimes Questioned

When suspected rapist Juan Carlos Jimenez, 20, posted bail last week, it invoked an emotional reaction of dismay, shock and disappointment. Jimenez, a suspected gang member who allegedly sodomized and sexually assaulted an 86-year-old woman, poses a potential flight risk and a threat to the community by the nature of his activities. It's reasonable to ask why he was granted a reduction of bail by $15,000.

Surely the severity of the charges merit that a person accused of committing the crimes face a bail amount that more appropriately fits the felony charges. Unfortunately, the bail in this case was reduced from $40,000 to $25,000.

The court is bound by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires that bail not be excessive. Of course, Jimenez is innocent until proven guilty. However, perhaps the Legislature, which passes laws that mandate the bail schedule, should take another look, especially when other accused criminals with lesser charges have been given much higher bails.
Utah's soft hand in dealing with sexual crimes not only is reflected in the low bail amounts but in the sentences and the state registry that relies heavily on self-reporting of the offenders.

We respect the authority of the judge but do not agree with his decision to reduce the bail as much as he did. It took 11 days for the elderly woman to report the alleged crime because she was terrified. That should stand for something.

While the judicial system worked as it should within the confines of the laws set with the bail schedule and hearing process, it proved that sometimes laws do not necessarily equate to justice. That's why we encourage a review of the state bail schedule in relation to sexual crimes.

Periodically evaluating current laws is a display of good faith on behalf of the public. The Legislature should do so during the next session.

Unfortunately, it will do no good to the community or the victim in this case.

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