Clemency for Jennifer Fichter
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The purpose of this petition is to seek a sentence reduction and/or pardon for Jennifer Fichter. This petition will be sent to the members of Florida's Office of Executive Clemency and the judge who passed the sentence. Please read below and sign if you agree.
Jennifer Fichter is a former Florida teacher who had sex with several of her students, all of whom were 17 years old. These students willingly had sex with Jennifer, however they were below the age of consent in the state of Florida. As a result, Jennifer was sentenced to 22 years in prison. This is wrong for many reasons:
1. Jennifer's students were willing.
Rape is a serious crime, because of the suffering it causes to its victims. Jennifer's students were willing participants in her actions, so she should not be prosecuted as a rapist.
2. Jennifer's prison sentence of 22 years is double the average length for a rape conviction. (http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/SOO.PDF
The crime is LESS serious, but the sentence is MORE serious.
3. The students were 17 years old, or more than 94.4% of the way towards legal adulthood.
4. The students were old enough to be tried as adults.
When a 17-year-old commits a serious crime like murder, it is rare that he or she will be tried as a juvenile. This shows that our justice system CAN, and sometimes does, recognize adulthood as a process, rather than something that happens instantaneously on one's 18th birthday.
5. Jennifer's 'victims' were physically and sexually mature.
Girls usually complete puberty at between 15 and 17 years of age, and males between 16 and 17.
6. Jennifer's 'victims' were over the average age of 'first sexual intercourse'.
According to the most recent statistics by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/key_statistics/s.htm#sexualactivity the average age of first intercourse for women is 17.2 years, and the average age for men is 16.8 years. (The percentage of men who first had sex BEFORE turning 17 is over 45%.)
7. The particular law under which Jennifer was convicted is condescending and damaging to our young people.
This law tells our soon-to-be adults that their decisions, opinions, well-being, and personal autonomy are meaningless and irrelevant. Jennifer's lengthy prison sentence, especially in combination with related cases (eg District Judge John McKeon's sentence of 60 DAYS imprisonment for the man who repeatedly raped his 12-year-old daughter), reinforces that message.
8. The law under which Jennifer was convicted is a nothing more than a violation of sexual freedom.
If a 17-year-old is old enough to have sex with his peers, then he is old enough to have sex with anyone he chooses. There is no significant difference between him having sex with a 28-year-old or another 17-year-old. The law under which Jennifer was convicted is a dictatorial barrier to personal sexual freedom, just as laws against homosexuality and interracial marriage once were.
9. The laws Jennifer broke are arbitrary and inconsistent, based on location.
The age of sexual consent varies between countries, and in our country is determined by each state. In about half of our states as well as in most countries, the legal age for consent is 16. In Florida, a 16-year-old can consent to sex with someone as old as 23. However, a Floridan cannot consent to sex with someone over 23 unless he or she is 18 or older.
10. Jennifer's lengthy prison sentence is an insult to rape victims.
Jennifer's 'victims' were not forced to do anything painful, humiliating, or terrorizing, and likely enjoyed their experiences. Yet the law says these young men have suffered the equivalent of a violent rape.
Jennifer Fichter has been given a very harsh prison sentence for violating the age-of-consent law. But what is the actual purpose of this law? It is to protect those who are too young to object to requests they don't want to follow. The 'victims' in this case were old enough to know they didn't have to comply with inappropriate requests from a teacher. These students were victimized not by Jennifer, but by the judge who sentenced their former lover to 22 years imprisonment.
Jennifer Fichter is not a rapist. She had no ill intentions toward her students. She is not a violent or dangerous person. Imprisoning someone for 22 years is an extraordinary serious thing to do. If you do nothing to change her predicament, you will be stealing an enormous portion of her life, and there is no good reason to do so.
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