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Nearly Half of Child Porn Viewers Getting Break on Prison Time

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  • Nearly Half of Child Porn Viewers Getting Break on Prison Time



    Back in 2008, there were two things that surprised us about Justice Department press releases touting child pornography prosecutions.

    First, we saw new releases nearly every day, reflecting the importance DOJ was placing on this issue. Second, the prison sentences were long: 10, 15 or 20 years wasn’t unusual, and those were penalties for people who downloaded — but didn’t themselves create — the illicit material.

    We decided to look into the matter, resulting in this WSJ piece about how a handful of judges were starting to rebel against imposing long sentences that recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. As long as these individuals didn’t actually molest children, the judges said, their punishment shouldn’t be greater than some child molesters and other violent criminals. (The judges were aided in part by this research from Troy Stabenow, a federal defender in Missouri.)

    Since then, the movement has grown. Judges have spoken out publicly, and even appellate judges have gotten into the act.

    So when we revisited the topic, we found that judges were speaking loudly — this time with their gavels. In the last fiscal year, nearly half of federal judges gave sentences to child-porn viewers that were below the range recommended by the guidelines, a substantial rise from two years earlier. Some defendants are receiving probation. Click here for today’s WSJ story, which includes the full data and some recent examples of leniency.

    The trend isn’t going unnoticed among advocates for child-abuse victims. “What they’re doing is trivializing the crime,” says Ernie Allen, who leads a national group that helps law enforcement catch child pornography offenders. “It’s a serious crime that warrants a serious penalty.”

    The split among the judiciary on child-porn sentencing means that someone who receives a prison term of several years in one court could be get a decades-long sentence in a different court.

    Last month, J. Randal Hall, a federal judge in Augusta, Ga., sentenced a child-porn viewer to 20 years in prison. There was no evidence that the defendant, Roger Gambrel, who is in his mid-50s, physically abused children, says his lawyer, Jacque Hawk.

    “This amounted to a death sentence,” Mr. Hawk says.

    Photo credit: Getty





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    Yes, it is a serious crime
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  • #2
    Re: Nearly Half of Child Porn Viewers Getting Break on Prison Time

    I have a very good friend that just went to prision for 6 years for child pornography. It was found that he never distributed it but thats what he was charged with. This man has never hurt anyone nor has he ever been in trouble. As a matter of fact all this took place while he was serving in Iraq. He also has to be monitored when he gets out for life. The judges nor anyone else understands what it does to people. Not only him but his family and friends. It has been devastating to everyone around him. He has since been contiplating suicide due to the humility of all this. The psychologist at his sentencing hearing stated that he does not fit the profile of an offender nor does he believe he did this. The judge did not listen. It is sad that someone who went to a website to download music and was sent stuff that was not open but was downloaded could be done this way. It was all because when it was downloaded it was on his computer. The judge said because when he turned on his computer and the file sharing program as well as the porno was on there that anyone in the world had access to it that is why he was going to jail. They proved no one downloaded anything. He never intentially did any of this. This is devastating to us all. The laws need to be changed. They need to go after the ones who are truely hurting people.

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    • #3
      Re: Nearly Half of Child Porn Viewers Getting Break on Prison Time

      I am sorry for your friends un-just conviction. But what they are saying on this forum is that the people that are looking at child pornography are not getting the punishment they deserve. I feel if a person is able to look at a child in a sexual way, be it on a computer, at a park, just walking down the street, then I feel they are capable of doing something even worse. Like acting on their urges. It literally makes me want to puke to think about these kind of people. I have children, I get on the computer every month to see where registered sex-offenders live around me. The number seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I have looked up their names and see that about 40% of them are repeat offenders! Why are we giving these scumbags chance after chance?!

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