A look into sex-crime sentences, does the time fit the crime?
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Over the last six months, Action News reported on several cases of adults committing sex crimes against children.
Many reached out to Action News concerned about the time not fitting the crime.
We took this issue to the Benton County Prosecutor, and talked to one woman who says change is needed.
"We would love to see sentences overall for sex crimes, the ranges of those be bumped up," said Tricia MacFarlan of Mirror Ministires.
MacFarlan is an advocate for sex-crime victims. She said if you want to make a change in the sentences, it starts with raising your voice.
"You have to talk to your legislatures. That’s why you voted them in there. We need to talk to them and let them know this is important to us. We believe this kind of crime is a higher priority than whatever crime that might be and that we believe sentencing should be stricter for someone who does a sex crime," said MacFarlan.
The Benton County Prosecutor said the state sets sentencing ranges for different levels of sex-crimes, then the judges decide a time based on those ranges. Sex-crime sentences can be anywhere from six to twelve months to a life sentence, according to authorities.
While the prosecutor couldn’t talk about the open sex-crime cases of over two dozen men accused of trying to pay for sex with children, he said sentencing for attempted rape of a child in the first degree could be a prison sentence of 40 years.
"It really depends. There's three different degrees and if it's a lesser degree, then they're looking at lesser penalty," said Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller.
Action News brought some well-known cases to the prosecutor- cases the community expressed concern over the short time sentence.
Oscar Garnica, the former-martial arts teacher, inappropriately touched one of his students.
Officials reports showed a judge sentenced him to only eight months.
“He was guilty of the crime of child molestation in the third degree. There was no intercourse and the age of the child. The judge is required to give a sentence within that sentencing range and that sentencing range was six to twelve months," said Miller.
Former Kennewick teacher Tonie Reiboldt had sex with and sent naked pictures to a teen boy.
According to officials, a judge sentenced her to only 18 months.
"The voters have decided what the sentencing ranges for those crimes should be," said Miller.
Prosecutors said if people feel the time doesn’t fit the crime, they need to reach out to lawmakers to make a change.
The Benton County prosecutor said they've gone to the state before asking for stricter sentences.
They received a two strikes law, which adds if you commit a second sex offense, ygo to prison for life without the possibility of parole.