Sexual abuse and domestic assault are some of the most heinous crimes. Most people agree that these are areas where mandatory minimum criminal sentences are very much needed.

I’m concerned that the absence of mandatory minimum sentences is causing serious problems in deterring these terrible acts of sexual assault and domestic violence. Too many sex offenders are given probation or light sentences by lenient judges. It’s an appalling practice that needs to be stopped.

So, during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of a bill to change the criminal sentencing laws for federal crimes, I offered and got passed amendments to ensure that people who commit such horrible crimes spend time behind bars.

My first amendment was adopted by a vote of 15-3 and would impose mandatory minimum sentences for various sexual abuse offenses. A second amendment that I offered was also adopted by a vote of 15-3 and would impose a mandatory minimum sentence where death occurs as a result of the commission of the crime of interstate domestic violence.

In addition to the sexual assault and domestic violence amendments, a third amendment that I offered was adopted by voice vote. This amendment would enact a mandatory minimum sentence for defendants convicted of willfully providing armaments, war materials and other goods and services to State sponsors of international terrorism or specially designated foreign terrorists and proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. It also would enact a mandatory minimum for defendants convicted of willfully and illegally exporting goods and services in connection with a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons program or a missile program.

Rogue nations and terrorist groups need to be kept from gaining access to various technologies that could inflict catastrophic damage. The sentencing of people seeking to help these rogue nations and terrorist groups must be robust enough to send a clear message to these organizations.