Sex crimes involving children are not exactly the kind of thing most people want to read or talk about.
I know this, but my Wednesday wanna-read this week is still Robin Sax’s It Happens Every Day.
Sax was a district attorney in Los Angeles County dealing primarily in juvenile sex crime cases. I can’t even begin to imagine how emotionally draining that job would be.
The timing of this post is related to what I had originally been scheduled to be doing for my job this week. I would have been in a situation to be dealing with one of those types of cases up close and personal for several days, however, the case was resolved before this week.
These cases are frequent. More frequent than is probably known because it is a very underreported crime as well. Many people who are victims do not know how to report something when it involves a family member. And oftentimes, these cases do.
“Sax shows readers how the real criminal justice system works, in terms you rarely hear about on the news,” according to the Goodreads summary.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on investigations and “deals with the investigation portion of child sexual assault. She defines exactly what constitutes sexual assault and then presents the ingredients of what makes a case ‘fileable.’ She also explains why some cases never get filed,” according to Goodreads.
The second part deals with what happens after a case is filed. “She discusses a range of issues, including mandatory sentencing, plea bargains, unsupportive parents, using children’s testimony to prosecute the perpetrator, DNA evidence, the importance of corroboration, and the weaknesses of the jury system.” (From Goodreads)
As somebody who has seen these cases from various points of view through my career, I know the different things that are taken into an account when a case like this is being resolved. Justice is desired, but at what cost? Do we retraumatize the victim on the witness stand, just to get additional prison time when a plea deal could do the same?
And what about when a family is split between believing the victim and the perpetrator? How do we deal with that case so the victim can actually begin to heal?
It’s a world that is complex and mostly unknown to the larger public, in part because of efforts to protect the victim’s in the media. I think this book will be enlightening, even for me. Not every case is Law and Order: SVU. A lot of them are far stranger/complex/difficult than fiction.