U.S. Sentencing Panel Urges Changes in Guidelines For Child Porn Cases

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The U.S. Sentencing Commission says the advent of the Internet has contributed to broad sentencing disparities in child pornography cases, and that the penalty structure needs to be changed, the Associated Press reports. In a study for Congress, the commission said federal law enforcement agencies handle nearly 2,000 child pornography prosecutions annually, up from 700 a decade ago. It attributed that increase largely to pornographers exploiting the Internet. The report says sentencing guidelines fail to distinguish adequately among offenders based on how dangerous they are, and is overly severe in some cases. The panel urged Congress to amend the law to take into account the volume of an offender’s child pornography collection, the types of sexual conduct depicted in the images, the ages of the victims depicted, how long an offender has maintained a collection and how involved an offender is with others in an Internet “community” devoted to child pornography. Judges are more frequently disregarding the sentencing guideline ranges for child pornography.

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