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November 14, 2011

Prison terms for downloading child porn in Canada are a lot different, eh?

This crime and punishment story from Canada, which is headlined "Man in record child porn bust set for sentencing," spotlights just how different the sentencing scale is for child porn downloading north of the border.  Here are the basics (with my emphasis added):

A New Brunswick man who pleaded guilty in a case involving the largest collection of child pornography in Canada will be sentenced Monday following a delay for a psychiatric evaluation.  Douglas Hugh Stewart, 52, of Moncton earlier pleaded guilty to possessing, accessing and distributing child pornography.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock said police found almost six million images and videos of girls — more than 4.5 million pornographic.  The others were images of children who were nude, including in bathtubs.

Lamrock said Stewart had been collecting since the 1980s and he looked for new material on a regular basis, and the size of the collection is something never dealt with before in Canadian courts.  Police spent 700 hours going through the images, involving girls as young as two years old.

The Crown is recommending a sentence of five to seven years in prison and wants Stewart to be listed as a registered sex offender.  Defence lawyer Maurice Blanchard is requesting a sentence of four years. The defence also noted Stewart has no criminal record, and co-operated with police from the beginning of the case.

Because the defendant here had downloaded and stored 6 million(!) images, I am tempted to call this case the holocaust of kiddie porn and to call the defendant the Hitler of child porn downloaders.  And yet notably, prosecutors in Canada have responded to the most aggravated of all cases of child porn downloading by recommending a sentence of five to seven years in prison.  

Meanwhile, in the United States, defendants prosecuted in federal court who downloaded 600 images of child porn regularly face guideline recommended sentencing ranges of a decade or more in federal prison — in other words, defendants who downloaded only 0.01% of the number of images downloaded by this Canadian defendant regularly face federal sentences at least twice as long as the sentence being urged by Canadian prosecutors.  And, in a notable state case from Arizona a few years back, Morton Berger received a 200-year state sentence for a much smaller kiddie porn collection (basics here and here), and just a few weeks ago in Florida, Daniel Enrique Guevara Vilca received a life without parole sentence for having lots of kiddie porn on a single laptop (basics here and here).

A few related older and more recent child porn prosecution and sentencing posts:

UPDATE:  The link above (also here) now has the updated sentencing story reporting that the Canadian defendant that I am calling the Hitler of child porn downloaders "has been sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the largest collection of child pornography ever seized in Canada."  Notably, five years is the statutory mandatory minimum term facing federal defendants charged with receipt of just a few images of child pornography, and the latest federal statistics reveal that federal child porn offenders on average receive a 10 year federal prison term.

November 14, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

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professor berman: "I am tempted to call this case the holocaust of kiddie porn and to call the defendant the Hitler of child porn downloaders"

me: your tasteless attempt of humor was sooooo innappropriate.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 14, 2011 12:42:01 PM

I guess I have to start with the standard disclaimer - I have no interest in child porn and I think people who view it should be punished.

Having gotten that out of the way, I think the sentences that are handed out in the U.S. for viewing child porn are disgusting and immoral. I think it mirrors what kind of people the majority of U.S. citizens are. I think the majority are a disgusting, immoral bunch and the SEX OFFENDER Witch Hunt is a great manifestation of them. They are bad people who must be mitigated.

For most people, being locked in a prison for 5 years is a very big deal and very, very likely will modify bad behavior. Americans hand out sentences like that like they are nothing.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 14, 2011 1:18:28 PM

Without even addressing the issue of sentencing for CP pervs, I have never understood the necessity to compare US practices with those of other countries and automatically assume theirs is better (kind of like a reverse genetic fallacy).

Professor Berman, OK, Canada sentences lighter for child porn. So what? Prove to me that a system that produced/allowed the "Hitler of child porn" is better than ours. "Canada does it this way" is not an argument.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 14, 2011 1:52:14 PM

FRegistryTerrorists,

Just out of curiosity, what would be your best guess to the percentage (at least 50% +1) of Americans that are "disgusting and immoral?" Do you live in the US? If so, why?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 14, 2011 1:59:11 PM

I agree with TarlsQtr.

My beef with international comparisons is that people cherry-pick them. Most of the world thinks that abortion is wrong. Should the USA therefore outlaw abortion too based upon international standards?

American law should be based upon what Americans believe. That's called integrity.

I agree with several other posters that CP sentences are too harsh. In fact, I don't think CP should be illegal at all as it is a violation of free speech. But I think that's a debate by Americans about what Americans believe and the rest of the world can keep its big fat nose out of our business.

I know, I know, that makes me a "regressive isolationist." I'll wear that insult like a badge of honor!

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 14, 2011 2:31:05 PM

Emulating Canada or Mexico or Europe is one of the standard argument Liberals use for reducing sentences in the USA. My how forward thinking, progressive and forgiving....I for one am glad we have manadatory minimums. Disgusting people like this case or the shooter in Norway that killed dozens don't deserve to ever walk amoung us...period plain and simple. I for one don't want our laws being compared to Mexico where they routinely behead people, string them from bridges, and get sentenced to 5 years.

Posted by: DeanO | Nov 14, 2011 2:51:32 PM

Comparisons are only valid if they are between like cases or systematic to allow for meaningful conclusions. Comparing a Canadian cases in which the defendant cooperates with American cases where they do not does not yield a valid conclusion about US practices of sentencing. There really isn't much of a conclusion to be drawn from comparing those (Canadian, cooperating)apples with (US, non-cooperating) oranges.

Since the Canadian guy was also distributing kiddie porn and actively searching for it, there is a great deal he potentially told about others with keen interests who were producing and consuming it.

Posted by: Paul | Nov 14, 2011 2:52:52 PM

I think that an international comparison is valid, if even just for its empirical value. That is, the Canadian system is a useful way to determine if the punishments we mete out are the least deprivations and incursions on liberty necessary to accomplish the goals of sentencing. We can learn from the Canadian experience with rehabilitation, recidivism, etc.

As for its moral value, that may also be a useful comparison. Canadian values need not guide our own, but I find it unnecessarily foolish to ignore or discount a reasoned moral assessment merely because it emanates from an area beyond your own national borders. Moral reflection should not be limited by geography.

As for the comment asking FRegistry why he would live here if he thought that many Americans were immoral, while I see why you may be curious about this, I don't think the point has much greater relevance. One's chosen (or circumstantially dictated) location need not have anything to do with the perceived morality of a large group of fellow citizens. To me, this is more a visceral political argument of the kind television punidts are all too tiringly familiar. I may be wrong about your motivations, and I apol9ogize if that is the case.

AO

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 14, 2011 4:13:02 PM

This is doubtless a serious case, but note that we have no idea what "6 million" images means. Often the statute has a pretty serious multiplier for video, where each second of video is 10 or 100 or 1000 images, or whatever. So, a collection of videos could get into stratospheric numbers pretty quickly. Again, this behavior is bad, it is serious, I'm not minimizing it. I'm just saying that if you are picturing, like, an airplane hangar full of CP, that's probably not the case. The less said about the completely unnecessary holocaust reference, the better.

Posted by: Anon2 | Nov 14, 2011 4:57:32 PM

paul: "Comparing a Canadian cases in which the defendant cooperates with American cases where they do not does not yield a valid conclusion about US practices of sentencing"

me: except that even with the cooperation discount and only a simple possession charge, he would be sentenced to much more than 5 to 7 years. Especially since as you note, he also was distributing child pron - the mandatory minimum which applies in even the least egregious case is as much as this icky perv's apparently extremely egregious case. But I agree that a comparison of available ranges is more specific. It would also be nice to know what sort of sentnces Canada has for sexual assaults and rapes. Most people who think that American sentences in non-production child porn offenses are too harsh - myself included - do so because many actual sexual assaults of children are punished less severely. But I really would have no problem with this icky perv spending 20 years behind bars based on the number of images and the distribution.

Tarls: "Canada does it this way" is not an argument."

me: Professor Berman did not make an argument that the Canada or the U.S. way was better - he merely noted the differences. My feeling is that in cases like this, the proper sentence is somewhere between Canada's 5 to 7 years and Florida's LWOP. Of course, most American jurisdictions are less harsh than those jurisdictions.

anon2: "we have no idea what "6 million" images means."

me: the article says that only "over 4.5 million" of the images were actually child porn, so apparently that leaves approximately 1.5 million nonpornographic images. But even using video conversion, that is still a lot of disgusting images and prison sounds like a good place for this icky perv.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 14, 2011 5:36:46 PM

"Professor Berman did not make an argument that the Canada or the U.S. way was better - he merely noted the differences."

That's a disingenuous statement. Taken in isolation it might be apposite but Doug's many posts on this topic make it quite clear that at a minimum he considers it a topic worthy of discussion. His editing of the blog is not a neutral action.

"Moral reflection should not be limited by geography."

Of course not. But I do think that moral judgment should be otherwise the idea of a nation-state is a paper tiger.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 14, 2011 6:41:17 PM

hmm

"Just out of curiosity, what would be your best guess to the percentage (at least 50% +1) of Americans that are "disgusting and immoral?"

well tarls i'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts it mates up point per point to the number of useless crimnal jokers we have in govt acrosss the country and DOUBLE for washington DC

the current stupidty over the so-called super committee is a PERFECT EXAMPLE!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 15, 2011 12:11:48 AM

>American law should be based upon what Americans believe.

American law should be based on what works. If a 5-7 year sentence has a lower recidivism rate than the 15-20 year sentence, isn't it better for society even though they're serving less time? If American's believed that all criminals should be executed on the spot, should we blindly implement it?

Posted by: NickS | Nov 15, 2011 7:45:20 AM

Virginia,

Agreed that the icky perv deserves prison. I was just noting that this case might be more in line with the (unfortunately) typical icky perv seen in CP cases, as opposed to an unprecedented "holocaust" of CP, as suggested in the post...

Posted by: Anon2 | Nov 15, 2011 10:41:25 AM

Hmmm, so what percentage of Americans are disgusting and immoral? I don't like to think about them much so I really haven't.

Remember how not so long ago there were so many people in the U.S. who were just so, so upset that "colored" people had the audacity to think that they could share water fountains with them? Those people are still here. They haven't gone anywhere. But luckily today, since it isn't P.C. to hate and enslave coloreds any longer, we have new people to hate. And the nanny governments run propaganda campaigns to support it. That is just one example, I'm sure people can think of many more.

I believe around 70% of California voters voted for Jessica's Law there. Those people are self-righteous, disgusting pukes. I'm sure they appear decent and often nice, but deep down, they are not quite as good as they think they are. They are as good as it doesn't inconvenience them.

I do live in the U.S. and I am listed on their glorious Registries. When I was young and naive, I loved this country and was recruited by their military. I wouldn't fight for them today if my own life depended on it.

Anyway, I'm going to guess around 70% to 85% percent of Americans are disgusting pukes. Luckily, the Registries have helped me hate them worse than they hate me. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 15, 2011 5:10:14 PM

Daniel: "American law should be based upon what Americans believe. That's called integrity."

Not trying to bust your balls, you are no Bill Otis. However, integrity is an adherence to moral principles; honesty. You have to ask yourself why it is some Americans feel they they don't have a moral obligation to help someone who can not afford health insurance? How about how the American justice system treats juve's?

I think that rawness, the state of being crude, incomplete and imperfect, best defines most Americans. The Sandusky case is a perfect example of that. If what is being alleged in the news is true, and I am not naive enough to believe everything I read in the newspaper or hear on the news, then why aren't more people outraged with what McQueary didn't do then they are with Paterno?

Americans have a Hang 'Em High disposition, and our laws/justice system is proof of that.

Posted by: Huh? | Nov 15, 2011 5:27:57 PM

Daniel: "Taken in isolation it might be apposite but Doug's many posts on this topic make it quite clear that at a minimum he considers it a topic worthy of discussion"

me: since I am not a binary thinker who sees a strictly black and white world, please explain how merely posting the topic for discussion shows opposition to U.S. laws? Especially when the main point is comparing the sentencing of icky pervs in Canada with outlying jurisdictions in the U.S. - Florida and Arizona's sentencing of icky pervs is an outlier even within the U.S. At no place does that say Canada is better than the U.S. Also, you can oppose the mandatory minimum sentences that the U.S. uses in these icky perv cases, but still think that a harsh sentence is apporpirate in egregious cases. But, really, simply posting a link to an article does not indicate agreement with it. It simply means its an interesting issue. Thinking that it is worth discussing American and comparing Canadian sentencing law is not saying that one is better than the other.

FRT: "since it isn't P.C. to hate and enslave coloreds any longer, we have new people to hate."

me: Comparing the treatment of icky pervs with massive child porn collections, child molesters, or rapists to the treatment of African Americans in this county is offensive and riduculous. Plus your premise is wrong because while racism may not be as overt as it used to be, because code words have replaced outwardly racist language, it is still pervasive in this country.

huh?: "you are no Bill Otis"

me: that is for certain, while Daniel has the "you are either 100% in agreement with me or 100% in opposition to me" part down, he needs to work on his humor to really reach the height of trolldom. Bill Otis is actually very clever and has a good sense of humor - other than his reflective anti-Erika prejustice which leads him to have "Amerika stinks" tourettes ;)

Posted by: virginia | Nov 15, 2011 6:38:33 PM

virginia:

I wasn't comparing the treatment of pervs, child molesters, or anyone else to the treatment of blacks. I was pointing out that Americans are disgusting and they often do idiotic, worthless, terrible things to people they hate. If you don't like that example, pick another. There are plenty.

And you kind of missed the point. It doesn't matter if racism still exists or not. The point was that all these self-righteous, goody-goody, holier-than-everyone-else Americans can and will hate all kinds of different people for all kinds of different reasons. All they have to believe is that lots of other people hate them and they will jump right into the witch hunt of the moment. And if the retard, nanny governments support it all, look out.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 15, 2011 7:33:52 PM


'Comparing the treatment of icky pervs with massive child porn collections, child molesters, or rapists to the treatment of African Americans in this county is offensive and riduculous.'

me: bah, humbug.

Posted by: :-O | Nov 15, 2011 7:44:38 PM

"Bill Otis is actually very clever and has a good sense of humor"

Sometimes....and sometimes he isn't.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 15, 2011 8:32:41 PM

virginia: "that is for certain, while Daniel has the "you are either 100% in agreement with me or 100% in opposition to me" part down, he needs to work on his humor to really reach the height of trolldom. Bill Otis is actually very clever and has a good sense of humor - other than his reflective anti-Erika prejustice which leads him to have "Amerika stinks" tourettes ;)"

IDK. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in my eyes. At any rate, BO is an elitist, pretentious, patronizing, condescending, high and mighty high-hat. He hates to be challenged... I don't get that from Daniel.

Posted by: Huh? | Nov 15, 2011 10:08:39 PM

FRT: "I wasn't comparing the treatment of pervs, child molesters, or anyone else to the treatment of blacks."

me: except you actually did whether you intended to or not.

FRT: "I was pointing out that Americans are disgusting and they often do idiotic, worthless, terrible things to people they hate"

me: have you ever thought that maybe there is a good reason why people do not like child molesters and rapists? I'm not convinced that the public registries offer much value besides entertainment, but only a fool would dispute the value of having a registry to ease background checks to make sure that convicted child molesters are not allowed to work with children. If your main issue is to remove the 19 year olds who had sex with a 15 year old or sexting teenagers (who are starting to frequently show up on the registries here now that an Appellate Court has signed off on giving juvenile and adult convictions to sexting teenagers or teenagers who receive sext messages), I agree with that and I am sympathetic. If your main issue is that its unconstitutional ex post facto punishment to have child molesters and rapists who were convicted before the registry law on the registry - I agree on the law because calling the registry a "civil" matter is absolutely bogus, but sorry, I just cannot muster any sympathy for icky pervs and rapists in the community (I do have sympathy for those icky pervs who have been "civilly commited" as "sexually violent predators" because they are being kept in what is essentially a prison without receiving treatment after their sentence after being convicted based on junk science when the people committing them know that there is no way to predict future dangerousness (the death penalty has the same problem with junk science predictions of future dangerousness, btw) and know that their entire "diagnosis" and "treatment" is nothing but a sham to make money). If your issue is that it is somehow unfair that people convicted of child molestation and rape AFTER the statute was passed, I think you are absolutely 100% wrong.

But if you want to go after irrational hate, look at Bill Otis's blatant anti-Erika prejustce.

FRT: "The point was that all these self-righteous, goody-goody, holier-than-everyone-else Americans can and will hate all kinds of different people for all kinds of different reasons"

me: I think you do not really understand what "hate" really means - because I do not hate icky pervs. I do hate the crimes that they commit against innocent children and think that those who commit contact offenses or have and distribute large child pron collections should be punished severely and yes, placed on a sex offender registry as part of that punishment. But I also understand that icky pervs are sick individuals who often have been sexually abused themselves and are not getting the treatment they require for the past trauma issues. But sorry, no amount of past victimization can excuse abusing an innocent child. But even if society as a whole hates icky pervs, its hard for me to feel any sympathy at all for someone who has 1,500,000 images of naked girls and 4,500,000 images of child pornography and distributes the images - or an icky perv who sexually assaults children or a rapist who sexually assaults adults. Those people deserve long prison sentences, not due to their status as icky pervs (see, this is a big difference between racism and going after criminals) but because of their action. Society has a right and a duty to punish people who commit crimes that victimize innocent people. Society doesn't have the right to hate them - but punishment is not a sign of hatred.

huh?: "I don't get that from Daniel."

me: it could be my mistake in thinking this is the same Daniel who posted here a while back - because that guy was very similar to Bill Otis in combining the lack of reading comprehension skills with the absolute certainty that they were right, but completely and totally humorless. Plus, I think he was a psychologist and psychologists tend to think that they are God (and the 4th Circuit, at least, apparently agrees) and I basically see psychologists as being the equivilent of snake oil salesmen. But, the primary difference between Bill Otis who an easily amused brat like me finds to be an endless source of entertainment and the Daniel who was here before was that Daniel had an absolute and complete lack of humor and cared way too much about well, almost everything.

But I apologize if this is not the same Daniel who was here earlier. I may be a brat, but I try to be a nice brat ;)

Posted by: virginia | Nov 16, 2011 7:42:54 AM

virgina I'm blushing. Are you making a pass at me. Most people don't pay me the compliment of insults. Normally I get the whole intelligent, compassionate, witty & handsome spiel that is just so boring because it's so true. Finally, a woman who sees me exactly how I am not: a sententious dullard. It's such a relief to meet a person who just doesn't get me at all. They say that love is the congruence of two misunderstandings. You keep going and I'll promise to do my best to keep up my part.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 16, 2011 8:56:18 PM

virginia:

I have considered that there might be good reasons why people do not like rapists, etc. I don’t want to waste my time going into a lot of detail, but that “dislike” or hate (more typically), is not rational. Most of the time, it simply does not make sense and can’t be justified. One of the main reasons is that a large majority of people equate rapist with “SEX OFFENDER”. I’m sorry, but you can’t hate “SEX OFFENDERS!!!!!” and not hate millions of other people who have committed terrible, violent, immoral acts against other people. You can’t treat “SEX OFFENDERS!!!!” as is done today and not treat those other people similarly. If you do, you have no credibility. So that, combined with the long history of Americans being bad, stupid people, leads to my conclusions.

You said, “only a fool would dispute the value of having a registry to ease background checks to make sure that convicted child molesters are not allowed to work with children.” You are wrong. In fact, the Registries are not nearly enough for that and that makes them not just worthless, but worse. Worse-than-worthless, that describes Registries very well.

I really can’t understand why people can’t get that it’s actually much, much safer to have a child molester who may attempt to “groom” a child for sex around a child than it is to have a person around the child who has a rage disorder (just as one example of thousands). A “groomer” can easily be stopped by educating and parenting your child. A person who would shoot your child in the face cannot be so easily stopped. How are we going to “protect children” from them? We can’t even create some useless Registries for them.

When I raised my children, I had zero need for any SEX OFFENDER Registry because I treated anyone and everyone like they might be a child molester. That is what is effective, not panacea Registries. I didn’t need huge, oppressive, nanny governments.

You keep talking about “sympathy” and “irrational hate”. When deciding if we should have Registries or not, I don’t think “sympathy” or “hate” should ever enter the decision. It’s not about that, it about right and wrong. Smart and stupid.

I don’t give a damn if people have sympathy for or hate me or anyone else listed on a Registry. Believe me, the Registries have converted me so I absolutely could not possibly care less about that. The problem comes when people can’t stop harassing, punishing, and requiring me and my family to do things. Here’s the deal - the scum that think that is okay need to mind their own f’ing business and I will mind mine. The second you start bothering me, it is unacceptable and I guarantee there are going to be problems. I have returned every bit of that harassment twelve-fold and I know I will continue to do so.

Lastly, I don’t know if you know this or not, but the Registries are stupid and counterproductive. Don’t be a fool and dream that they actually “protect” people. Further, if they were so damn great, where are the rest of the Registries? There are no legitimate excuses that they don’t exist. That is one reason why the scum that support the Registries have no credibility.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 17, 2011 9:01:44 AM

daniel: "Most people don't pay me the compliment of insults."

me: what insults? Okay, maybe you are right that it was an insult to snake oil salesmen to compare them to psychologists. So I apologize to any snake oil salesman who reads this :P

but you are right, if I was respectful to you, it would just mean I find you boring :)

Posted by: virginia | Nov 17, 2011 3:08:15 PM

Downloading child porn is no different than downloading a bloody violent movie.....YOU HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG!

Although, the violent bloody movie is a far worse stain on society. (People can heal abuse, but no one can come back from the dead!

Posted by: RJL | Feb 20, 2012 4:30:43 PM

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