There's good news out of western Texas this week. Rafael Acosta Rodriguez, the man on the run for nearly a month after allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl with autism, has finally been caught. Parents everywhere can feel a little safer, possibly for a long, long time to come.
That's because Rodriguez could land himself in prison for as long as 99 years if he's convicted. That's essentially a life sentence.
Some will say it's too much. Ninety-nine years? It's not like he killed anyone.
But let's consider the charges here. Cops say a 12-year-old girl was raped. Her innocence was stolen. That's enough to make most of us think the perpetrator should burn in a very hot place for all eternity.
But on top of that, this girl has autism. We don't know where on the spectrum she falls, but we know she technically has a special need.
That means someone took advantage of a child with special needs.
Can we up the temperature a few hundred degrees on the aforementioned hot place?
Ah, but we can't. We can't guarantee anything after death. We can only look at what we do with pedophiles here on earth, how we punish them to give a child justice but also what that punishment means for society as a whole.
We could give them lighter sentences -- Rodriguez could get as little as five years if convicted. But the recidivism rates of child molesters are no joke. Conventional wisdom tells us that people who have an urge to sexually molest children don't simply lose that urge because they go to prison. They're at a high risk of re-offending, and that means kids are always at risk.
Ninety-nine years might seem like a lot for someone who hasn't killed anyone. But a little girl's childhood was killed and who knows how many more could suffer.
Ninety-nine years for a pedophile sounds about right to me.
How about you?
What kind of punishment do you think fits this crime?
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