Being a survivor of sexual assault is hard enough as it is, but a district attorney in Louisiana wants to make it even harder by forcing rape victims to go to jail if they don’t testify. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who is a Democrat defended his position
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who is a Democrat, defended his position saying that “If I have to put a victim of a crime in jail for eight days in order to keep the rapist off of the street for a period years and prevent him from raping or harming someone else, I’m going to do that.” This thoughtless remark only highlights the shortsightedness that still exists in our legal system regarding rape and its prosecution. Attorneys have been using a legal instrument known as “attachment order” in order to jail victims, a legal order that is primarily used to in cases involving illegal immigrants or against suspected gang members.
Although this sounds permissible in practice, this only hurts the victims of abuse that they are trying to help. Many people who are victims of rape are already too afraid to speak out in fear of not being taken seriously or of being judged. By attempting to jail these victims, you make them less inclined to speak out in the first place or more afraid to come forward. In one instance, a rape victim was incarcerated when the victim had a mental breakdown while testifying against her aggressor in court. A Texas prosecutor jailed the victim for a month simply because he was afraid she wouldn’t show up to testify against her rapist. This victim was not a criminal yet had to spend a month in jail where she was beaten by fellow inmates and punched in the face by a guard. Her rapist did end up being convicted, but she had to undergo more trauma to get to that point.
Rape victims should not be jailed for refusing to testify, although Cannizzaro views that it is a“ very, very small price to pay.” This practice will only hurt the rape victims by making it harder than it already is for them to step forward. Survivors of this type of abuse have already gone through a lot and forcing them into jail will only harm their already fragile state. Although it is important to have rape survivors testify in order to keep as many rapists as we can off the street, addressing the problem in this way is morally wrong.