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February 6, 2009

Some state and international perspectives on child porn prosecutions

As detailed in posts linked below, I have blogged a lot about seemingly disparate prosecutorial charging and judicial sentencing decisions in how the federal criminal justice system is dealing with child porn downloading cases.  Thanks to a helpful reader, I saw two new stories providing a state-level and an international perspective on these issues.

At the state level, consider this sentencing story from California: "A Granada hills-based attorney who pleaded no contest to possessing child pornography on his computer was sentenced Wednesday to five years supervised probation and 1,000 hours of community service." 

At the international level, consider this enforcement story from Canada, headlined "Child porn scourge creates more suspects than can be arrested."  This article tries to put a number on how many people may be involve in trading child porn images:

Officials estimate there are at least 65,000 people in Canada — and up to 600,000 in the United States — trading pictures and videos of the sexual abuse of children. “There’s just not enough manpower to go and identify and arrest these 65,000 individuals,” said [Paul] Gillespie, [former head of Toronto police’s groundbreaking child exploitation unit and] now president and CEO of the Kids’ Internet Safety Alliance....

The Ontario Provincial Police special child pornography unit always has a backlog of cases.  “The OPP is arresting about 75 of these offenders a year, when we know there are tens of thousands of them,” said Insp. Andy Stewart.  “We’re never going to be in a position to arrest our way out of this.”

Stewart called the 65,000 a “very conservative” estimate for the number of Canadians collecting, trading and selling child pornography. The provincial force is trying to identify criteria that they can use to properly triage child pornography cases to make sure they’re going after the ones who pose the biggest threat to children, he added....

Police estimate child pornography is a $2- to $3-billion industry, with over 20,000 new images posted on the Internet every week. The ease with which digital photographs and videos can be shared online has meant police are discovering huge collections of child pornography when they make arrests.

“Years ago a large seizure might be 1,500 to 2,000 images, but with the electronic sharing of images,” Stewart said. “The average is now 100,000 images, and we’ve had seizures with well over 1,000,000 images and 1,200 videos.”...

Sentences for possessing and manufacturing child pornography vary widely, but rarely is maximum term of 10 years ever handed out in Canada unless there are additional charges such as sexual assault....  In the U.S., the Supreme Court last year let stand a 200-year prison term for an Arizona teacher who had been convicted of possessing 20 images of child pornography.

Some related recent federal child porn prosecution and sentencing posts:

February 6, 2009 at 09:38 AM | Permalink

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