Sunday, June 18, 2006

classifying trauma

New York, being my home state, will always hold a place in my heart. Even though I hope to never ever return there after I graduate and move out into the "real world," the things that happen in New York, politically and socially, still concern me, and probably always will.
(Please note: By "New York," I do not mean the city. I have never been to the city, don't particularly want to go to the city, and don't particularly like the city. Contrary to what legislators in Albany or people residing in the city may think, the rest of New York State does exist, and the people in those areas deserve consideration by the state too. /rampage)

By reading pretty much any group of five posts on this blog, you will also realize that I am equally, if not more, concerned with the rape culture in our society and the lack of sufficient legal or other recourse and support for rape victims/survivors.

It follows, then, this potential repeal of the statute of limitations thing in New York strikes a rather resonant chord with me.
(Yes, I know this is about a month old. Sorry.)

It seems that the push to repeal the 5-year statute of limitations on the prosecution of rape has finally garnered some serious support.

The statute of limitations is, quite simply, stupid and, as the Women's eNews article puts it, an archaic remnant of a fucked-up, (more) misogynistic past.

Rape, at most, can be considered a Class B Felony. Other Class B felonies? Kidnapping and robbery that don't result in physical injury. Kidnapping and robbery that do result in physical harm are automatically bumped up to a Class A felony -- and Class A felonies cannot be subject to a statute of limitations, because they're seen as Very Serious crimes.
Not so serious.

Thing is, this legislation doesn't address that part. This legislation simply repeals the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases in particular. This legislation is only symbolically acknowledging that rape is a (sort of) serious crime.
Even though the Manhattan DA, Robert Morgenthau, had the following to say: "After murder, the crime that causes the most permanent damage to the victim is a rape."
Sadly, this well-informed Manhattan DA cannot change the felony classification of the crime, even though he seems to understand it far better than those who do have that power.

I know, I know. Repealing the statute of limitations is a good thing, and it's more than we've been able to get accomplished in a long, long time. I'm not saying that we shouldn't do it, because we absolutely should.
But it would just make more sense to make rape a Class A felony. Then we wouldn't have to go through this whole statute of limitations debate at all, and you'd have the added bonus of actually acknowledging the damage that rape causes.

Because I'd like to see a New York legislator try to make the case that rape Isn't Really That Serious and then try to get re-elected in the next election cycle.
(At least, I'd like to think that said scenario would be impossible...)

1 comment:

Marcella Chester said...

Thanks for the information on the statute of limitations in NY. For many reasons, including getting a late match to DNA collected from the victim, rapists shouldn't be off the hook after 5 years.