Leon Cannizzaro, a District Attorney of Louisiania Orleans Parish District, may have gone a little too far. He said that he is willing to jail rape survivors if they choose not to testify against the people who attacked them.
This is exactly what these people need. To survive a traumatizing and life-threatening ordeal only to find themselves in prison.
In Cannizzaro’s mind, this would compel the victims of rape and domestic violence issues to testify. In reality, this issue is already so sensitive and often goes unreported, it will most likely push victims in the other direction.
This will only result in more crimes going unreported and the assailants will go about their lives scott free.
While it is legal in Louisianan for law enforcement officers to put “material” witnesses in jail for not testifying, this is definitely not what they had in mind.
Six victims of sexual assault were put into jail last year for not testifying on their own behalf. This is absolutely ridiculous as the trial process for something like this is emotionally and psychologically grueling. Why can’t a man like Cannizzaro understand that?
Many survivors choose not to continue with the process rather than face law enforcement again. Police officers mark them as uncooperative witnesses, when in reality, Ms Schafran says, “they’ve been abused by the system that’s supposed to help them.” Maya Raghu, Director of Workplace Equality for the National Women’s Law Center, said the use of material witness warrants only furthers this abuse.
“Being jailed to be forced to participate in a prosecution is extremely traumatic and has economic consequences on the survivor as well,” Ms Maya Raghu told The Independent. “It’s punishing victims of violence for reporting the violence against them.” Both women said they fear this policy would dissuade victims from reporting crimes in the first place. More than 60 per cent of sexual assaults go unreported nationwide, according to statistics from the National Institute of Justice.