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June 30, 2009

Is deterrence of child porn offenses sought by federal harshness undermined by state leniency?

Regular readers know about the many federal child porn downloading cases in which the federal sentencing guidelines call for many years or even decades of imprisonment.  Federal prosecutors frequently defend these harsh sentencing terms by contending they are needed in order to send a message and deter others from getting involved in accessing child porn.  But this message and the goal of general deterrence must surely be undermined by this kind of local story noting a prominent child porn offender getting sentenced only to probation:

Thomas Adams, the former Green Oaks mayor and Lake County Republican chairman, was sentenced to probation Monday in his child pornography case.  Judge Patricia Golden, who was brought in from Kane County to hear the case, went along with a recommendation from a pre-sentencing investigation and prosecutor Patricia Fix's suggestion that Adams is suitable for probation.

Adams, 71, pleaded guilty in February to 16 counts of possession of child pornography, a Class 3 felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, but is also probationable. As part of his plea deal, more serious charges connected to the dissemination of child pornography were dropped....

Adams was arrested on July 24, 2006, after authorities discovered that he e-mailed pornographic photos to an undercover agent in Clearwater, Fla. He was charged with 33 counts of child pornography, including 11 counts for dissemination. The images mostly depicted young boys.  In the days after his arrest, Adams resigned as mayor and as leader of the Lake County Republican party.

Mark Pleasant, an investigator for Lake County State's Attorney's Office, said during the sentencing hearing that Adams got most of the photos through AOL Instant Messenger and AOL chat rooms.  In one online conversation, Adams discussed the possibility of having sex with an undercover agent's teenage sons, though it never progressed, Pleasant said.

June 30, 2009 at 08:55 AM | Permalink

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Comments

IMO virtually everything done to "send a message" in the justice system is a farcical waste of time. Where that's the goal, it's much better served through the purchase of TV advertising, which is how messages actually get delivered in this country to the general public (as is done on seat belts, etc.). Most people are clueless about sentencing practices and the folks paying attention to judges' decisions tend not to be the ones committing crimes.

If in this case a friggin' Republican mayor hadn't gotten the "message" from previous harsh sentences, one wonders who, if anyone, is receiving all these messages being sent?

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 30, 2009 9:38:42 AM

I agree with Grits. I doubt that any prosecutor has a clue about what serves as a useful deterrent. The proverbial "notch in the belt" is all they care about.

The fact is that many child porn possession offenders have never before had any contact with the criminal justice system, and often are not aware (until it is too late) how severe the penalties can be. A felony conviction and its collateral consequences are devastating enough, all by themselves. The idea that prison sentences stretching into the years or decades are needed on top of that for general deterrence is just ludicrous.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jun 30, 2009 10:31:19 AM

The anti-family, feminist lawyer and its male running dogs are on the hunt for the productive male. These false prosecutions of conduct that produced pleasure and not any measurable harm, are bias hate crimes themselves of bad faith feminist lawyer gotcha. The virtue of females 100 years ago required strict liability. Today, it is females that are the sex predators from junior high school. The strict liability element of statutory rape should end, as should the crime of statutory rape, itself for anyone past the 14th birthday. These are biological adults. They would have been starting their families and careers up to 100 years ago. The rent seeking, left wing unions sought to keep them out of the job market because they make great energetic workers. They would blow away their do nothing members at work. So childhood got falsely extended by a half decade. These crimes are part of a left wing propaganda scam. In addition, a worthless make work horribly wasteful scheme got enacted around the same time. It is called high school.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 30, 2009 2:28:57 PM

Meanwhile, violent serial child rapists are getting off with a slap on the wrist. The lawyer loves and promotes evil. He hates and seeks the destruction of goodness.

Judges are rent seeking lawyers who are out of control.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 30, 2009 2:36:39 PM

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