Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years Tuesday morning, putting a public end to the most public sexual abuse case in decades. The judge who sentenced Sandusky—convicted of 45 counts while abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period—set a sentence term that works within the framework of the justice system, stating that he wished he could have given this perpetrator a much longer sentence.
Sandusky is 68 years old, making it unlikely he will survive the next 30 years in prison, let alone the next 60. The judge certainly took Sandusky's age into account when deciding on a sentence, but allowing Sandusky to get off with no less than 30 years sends a terrible message to the victims and sets a dangerous precedent for any future incidents in the community.
Forget about Sandusky for a second; what does this sentence say to other monsters lurking around our communities? A man abused multiple children over a decade-and-a-half and got no more than six years per victim. Sandusky ended up being sentenced to, on the low end, less than one year for every count upon which he was convicted.
How is that enough of a deterrent for future criminals?
If Sandusky were 38 or 48 years old—close to the age when all this abuse allegedly began—he could very well outlive a 30-year sentence. He should have been sentenced for the crimes he committed without concern for his age.
The fact is, if he were caught when this abuse first began, his current sentence would be too short. Why isn't the court making up for lost time, tacking on additional time to account for when Sandusky was free to prey on all those other children?
Most importantly, what does this say to the victims? The judge should not have sentenced Sandusky to a term based on his life expectancy. He should have sentenced him based on the life expectancy of his victims.
Sandusky's 10 victims reportedly range in ages from 17 to 27. In 30 years, every one of his victims will have to relive this experience again, wondering if Sandusky would have been released, assuming he does not live to 98 years old while in prison.
Even the maximum penalty of 60 years is conceivably within the lifespan of all of Sandusky's victims. October 9, 2072, seems like a long time from now, but for Sandusky's victims, it's a ticking clock to when that monster would have been released from jail—when the justice system feels that this man who did those things to those boys would have served his debt to society.
That doesn't seem right, even if Sandusky dies far sooner.