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Criminal justice system ill-prepared to tackle cases of sexual violence

Hanna Barczyk for the boston globe

Regarding “No prison for dozens of rapists” (Page A1, July 7): Contrary to the view of one observer in your article, society is indeed “soft on rape.” Deep-rooted attitudes and myths about sexual violence frame our criminal justice system. That there were a mere 305 rape convictions in Massachusetts in 12 years only begins to tell this story. In 2015 alone, advocates at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center accompanied 425 survivors, and this was just at Boston-area hospitals. What happens to the thousands of rape survivors and offenders who are not involved with prosecution?

Most survivors do not report. Survivors see a criminal process in which they themselves will effectively be put on trial. The system was not set up or supported to pursue cases with imperfect survivors (which is all survivors), imperfect scenarios (which is everything short of a stranger in public with cameras and no alcohol), and imperfect offenders (who are not 100 percent monstrous and yet still chose to rape).

We need more transparency in the kind of data your reporter dug deep to find in order to hold offenders accountable. We need evidence-based, publicly funded treatment for child and adult offenders. We need adequate funding for vital support services, such as the sexual assault nurse examiner program, child advocacy centers, and rape crisis centers. We have far to go for meaningful change; incarceration rates are only one flawed measure of that.

Gina Scaramella
Executive director
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center