February 14th, 2007

The Conditions for Sentencing a Rapist to the Maximal Punishment

It is my unresearched impression (from most rape cases that come to mind) that most convicted Israeli rapists are sentenced to between 2 and 6 years of imprisonment. The law specifies a maximal imprisonment term of 16 years for "plain" rape, or up to 20 years for "aggravated" (is that the legal term? I wonder) rape (אונס בנסיבות מחמירות). Many have wondered what it would take for Israeli courts to sentence convicted rapists (many of them repeating offenders) to terms approaching the maximum set in the law.

Today, this item (Hebrew) (English here) caught my eye -- 25 years of imprisonment to a man who repeatedly raped, beat, imprisoned, and threatened a woman. The woman not only suffered wounds and had to undergo surgery, but also needed psychiatric hospitalization, and ultimately died of her wounds, not before testifying against him in court.

Is such a horrific saga really the only extreme that would move the court to apply the maximal sentence the law provides? Hasn't a "plain", first-offence rapist proven he's a danger to society and is unfit for unsupervised human company? Are five years of imprisonment sufficient as long as the victim ultimately lives? Truly, I don't understand the reasoning behind the general attitude of the Israeli court.
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