FBI Predicts Growing Federal Child-Porn Case Docket Will Continue Upward

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The number of federal child-pornography cases has exploded in the past 15 years as Congress passed mandatory five-year minimum sentences and federal authorities have declared the investigations a priority, the Associated Press reports. The FBI has made more than 10,000 arrests since 1996, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports a similar number of arrests since its creation in 2003. Federal prosecutions are up 40 percent since 2006, resulting in roughly 9,000 cases. In 2009, 2,315 suspects were indicted.

Local authorities also are stepping up child-pornography investigations, which may require little more than a technically savvy agent, a high-speed Internet connection, and peer-to-peer software that millions of computer owners use to swap videos and other digital files. The number of child-pornography prosecutions is dwarfed by drug and immigration cases in federal courts, but no other crime is growing at the 2,500 percent rate the FBI claims for child-porn arrests. The FBI says the cases will only continue to grow as appeals courts approve their search and seizure methods. Defense attorneys, legal scholars, and some federal judges call the trend draconian for failing to distinguish between hard-core producers of child pornography and hapless Web surfers with mental problems.

http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_17306656

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