Federal Judges Resisting Many Tough Child Porn Penalties

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As law enforcement officers and policy makers toughen prosecutions for the distribution and possession of child pornography, they are encountering increasing resistance from federal judges in what has become a caustic conflict over the appropriate punishment for a heinous crime, the Boston Globe reports. In 2010, federal judges deviated below advisory sentencing guidelines in child porn cases 43 percent of the time, copared with 18 percent for other crimes, says the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston, chair of the commission, sentenced a man to 21 months in prison for possession of child pornography – far lower than the 63 months he faced under sentencing guidelines, and even lower than the 30 months prosecutors had recommended as part of a plea deal. “As far as I'm concerned, there are some problems with the guidelines,'' she said. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Ponsor sentenced a man in 2010 to four years of probation, though prosecutors asked that he serve the 6-to-8-year sentence called for by the guidelines.

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