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May 25, 2022

Former reality star Josh Duggar sentencing to just over 12.5 years in federal prison for child pornography offense

In this post last week, I spotlighted the sentencing submission of the parties in a high-profile federal sentencing and asked "what federal sentence for former reality star Josh Duggar after child pornography convictions?".  I noted that the prosecution was asking for the statutory max of 20 years (and they said the guideline range was 30 to life), while Duggar asked for a sentence of five years.  The post generated a lot of thoughtful comments, and atomicfrog predicted "a sentence in the 10-12 year range."  That was pretty close, as this new BuzzFeed News piece explains in its headline: "Josh Duggar Has Been Sentenced To 12.5 Years In Prison Over Child Sexual Abuse Materials."

Though not discussed at length in the BuzzFeed piece, I surmise from this People article that the sentencing judge here may not have adopted all of the guideline enhancements pursued by the Government.  Here is a snippet:

Prosecutors had asked that he serve the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while Duggar’s defense team had asked for five. “Duggar has a deep-seated, pervasive, and violent sexual interest in children,” Assistant US Attorney Dustin Roberts wrote in a sentencing memo.

Both Duggar's wife, Anna, and father, Jim Bob, were in court in Fayetteville on Wednesday for the sentencing.

On Tuesday, District Judge Timothy Brooks issued a 29-page opinion rejecting Duggar's plea for a new trial. "There is no merit to Mr. Duggar’s argument in favor of acquittal," the judge wrote....

After a lengthy hearing Wednesday in which he heard a number of objections from the defense, the judge sentenced Duggar to 151 months in prison.

You be the judge: what federal sentence for former reality star Josh Duggar after child pornography convictions?

Prior related posts:

May 25, 2022 at 05:25 PM | Permalink


Duggar will probably start his time at a Low Security Prison, and may eventually, with good behavior, work his way down to a camp (after his time drops below 10 years). If he has disciplinary problems, he could work his way up to a Medium Security Prison (FCI), where the average sentence is 23 years and some inmates have life sentences. At an FCI, he would encounter problems with other inmates assaulting him because of the nature of his convictions. I wonder if his sentencing Judge made a recommendation for the BOP's "Sex Offender Treatment Program" at Butner, N.C.? If so, he probably won't get to participate in the program for several years, because there is a long waiting list. His life will never be the same. By the time he is released, his 7 children will be mostly grown. The divorce rate for incarcerated men is about 85%, so it is likely that his wife will eventually divorce him. Further, of the 15% of marriages that survive the husband's incarceration, half of those marriages end in divorce during the man's first year after release from prison.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 25, 2022 10:56:25 PM

Jim - you're right in many regards, his life will never be the same. Duggar will likely be placed at one of 8-10 SOMP facilities - Sex Offender Management Program - the closest one to Duggar is likely FCI Seagoville. Even if the Judge recommended sex offender treatment at Butner, it is completely voluntary, just like the RDAP Program. Since Duggar went to trial and has denied his conduct, I find it unlikely he will participate in any sex offender treatment.

Posted by: atomicfrog | May 26, 2022 6:49:15 AM

atomicfrog --

Does sex offender treatment work? I would think that, by the time someone reaches Duggar's age, his sexual appetites are pretty well fixed and deeply rooted, and aren't going to change. But this is not my area, so I thought I'd ask.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 26, 2022 9:41:27 AM

@ Jim, People charged with a sex offense will not be placed in a camp at any point. BOP rule.

@ atomicfrog, yes treatment works. People convicted of a sex offense have the lowest recidivism rate of all crimes. Depending on the various types/variables, but over all 3% to 6%. People with illegal images are on the very low end and for many, they have no interest in children in any way. It is a pornography/internet problem. This guy certainly has a serious issue and is one of those few repeat offenders. Not admitting he has a problem, is a problem.

Posted by: Mp | May 26, 2022 10:44:49 AM

Mp: For sex offenders and child porn viewers, DENIAL is not just a river in Egypt! On the Camp placement issue, I stand corrected; that rule makes sense. The public would never forgive the BOP if a sex offender or child porn guy ran away from a Camp (which has no fence) and assaulted a child.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 26, 2022 11:06:03 AM

Duggar's history is problematic. While it is true that offenders with a "stand-alone pornography offense" are the least likely to commit a "contact offense" (i.e., "hands on offense"), Duggar has a history of "crossing that line" from fantasy to reality. Although that was when he was 12-14 yrs of age, it is a factor to consider.

As to the question of "does treatment really work?", the answer is this: sex offender treatment's main goal is to teach the individual how to manage their lives given their particular condition. Mr. Otis is correct as to the fact that a person's sexual proclivities are pretty well "set" after a point in time, however, armed with the information, resources and a higher degree of self-awareness, an offender can manage his/her life without re-offending. The proof is in the fact that CP offenders rarely re-offend (+/- 3%).

Posted by: SG | May 26, 2022 2:47:22 PM

Bill - does sex offender treatment work? That's a loaded question. I'm sure it does for some - but as I noted earlier, all the BOP sex offender treatment programs are voluntary. I wonder how many participate and how many successfully complete treatment. On a somewhat separate note - Chapter 5 in the USSC's most recent report on Federal Sentencing of Child Pornography Non-Production Offenses here - gives you an idea how likely they are to reoffend.


Posted by: atomicfrog | May 26, 2022 3:13:33 PM

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