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December 5, 2005

Tough sentences for downloading the wrong porn

This morning, the Louisville Courier-Journal has this interesting article, "Cracking down on child porn," which details the lengthy sentences defendants are now to receive under the federal guidelines for downloading illegal pornography.  The story focuses on a young, married, college graduate facing over 17 years imprisonment because of his huge collection of child pornography on his home computer.  The article also includes this interesting discussion of federal sentencing in these cases:

Under 2003 legislation known as the PROTECT Act, Congress increased federal penalties for child-pornography offenders, including a mandatory five-year sentence for receiving or distributing it through the Internet.  The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which advises federal courts, has increased advisory prison terms twice since the legislation passed.  Sentences increase dramatically based on the number and types of images involved, and if children younger than 12 are depicted.

Judges almost always follow the guidelines, according to a commission report requested by Chief U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn....  Of 25 federal child-pornography offenders affected by the 2004 guidelines and sentenced this year through September, judges deviated from prosecutors' recommendations and imposed sentences shorter than the guideline in only three cases.

December 5, 2005 at 07:23 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Congress is approaching child porn possession in much the same way as it has approached drug possession. By severely punishing *demand*, it hopes to seriously reduce the *supply*.

As always, there may be more to this case than meets the eye. This defendant may have been involved in more serious activities than mere *possession*, but the possession charge is what he pleaded guilty to.

But taking the case on its face value, there is a tragedy here that very much parallels what happens in drug cases. A fairly low-level offender who has no prior criminal record has ruined his life. His 17 1/2 years in prison are not likely to to him, or society, any good.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Dec 5, 2005 11:57:57 AM

I know a 4th year college student who is an Eagle Scout and active member of his church and when he was a teenager he downloaded child porn pictures available on Yahoo. he has now been sentenced to a year in a Fed minimum security prison and will face 15 years probation and classified as a sex offender. This legislation is way out of control as the Internet portals are not held liable for providing the access to kids. If anyone knows any appellate options, I would like to hear about them.

Thanks, Hoyt

Posted by: Hoyt Connell | Dec 17, 2005 12:42:24 PM

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