Child Porn Possession Terms Too High: Judges

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Federal sentences for possessing child pornography are too severe, judges told the U.S. Sentencing Commission in Chicago yesterday, reports the National Law Journal. The panel suggested it will review guidelines. Chief Judge James Carr of the Northern District of Ohio and Chief Judge Gerald Rosen of the Eastern District of Michigan said many people convicted of possession are not threats to the community, but rather socially awkward first-time offenders.

Commissioner Beryl Howell said the issue “is on our priority list for the coming year.” The commission will study what kinds of refinements might be made after reviewing the departures from the sentencing guidelines that judges have made in these cases, she said. Howell also noted that Congress has weighed in heavily in this area over the years. The commission is holding regional hearings after the 25th anniversary of the Sentencing Reform Act to get feedback from judges, prosecutors, probation officers, public-interest lawyers, public defenders and others on federal sentencing practices. The Chicago hearing is the commission’s fourth, after forums in Atlanta, Stanford, Ca., and New York. Hearings will take place in Denver next month; Austin, Texas, in November; and Phoenix in January.

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