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Monday, November 30, 2009

Are child-porn convicts punished too harshly?

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets sentences in the federal court system, is taking another look at the punishment for viewing and possessing child pornography. (Just to be clear -- NOT for those convicted of making it.) They've heard from federal judges who think the current rules are too harsh, the Denver Post reports.

In a lot of these cases, the judges say, the defendant has never had inappropriate contact with a child and probably never would. Treatment, not prison, would be a better choice, the judges argue.

"It is too often the case that a defendant appears to be a social misfit looking at dirty pictures in the privacy of his own home without any real prospect of touching or otherwise acting out as to any person," U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron of Oklahoma City said in her testimony to the commission.

"As foul as child pornography is, I am unpersuaded by the suggestion that a direct link has been proven between viewing child porn and molesting children."

But some experts say that tough sentences are necessary. The Post quotes an official from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who says that, whenever child pornography is made, a child is victimized. People who seek out those images are feeding the market and, thus, encourage more child porn to be made.

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