Does Possessing Child Porn Deserve Life Without Parole?

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Last week, a judge sentenced Daniel Vilca, 26, an East Naples, Fl., stockroom worker whose home computer was found with hundreds of pornographic images of children, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, says the New York Times. Law Prof. Douglas Berman of Ohio State University said the penalty fails to "distinguish between people who look at these dirty pictures and people who commit contact offenses." Prosecutor Steve Maresca said, "Too many people just look at this as a victimless crime, and that's not true. These children are victimized, and when the images are shown over and over again, they're victimized over and over again."

Lee Hollander, Vilca's lawyer, called the sentence ridiculous, saying, "Daniel had nothing to do with the original victimization of these people; there is no evidence that he's ever touched anybody improperly, adult or minor; and life in prison for looking at images, even child images, is beyond comprehension." Troy Stabenow, a public defender in Missouri, said most people assume that someone who looks at child pornography is also a child molester or will become a child molester, a view often mirrored by judges. A growing body of scientific research shows that this is not the case, he said.

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