Both society and the justice system treat child porn users the same as child molesters. I don't know how it came to be that way, but I suspect that the Sex Offender Registry has encouraged people to think this way. "Sex offender" includes so many offenses--some harmless, some violent; some ugly and some that used to be seen as silly young love. The term "sex offender" is used on all of them.
A young man who has a nudie picture of his younger girlfriend, a violent rapist, a child porn user, a serial molester: they all are sex offenders. Someone using the Sex Offender Registry could look at the details of each offender, or they could simply stare at the house across the street with horror when they find it on the registry.
When a child porn user is released after trial (haha! just kidding...child porn charges almost never go to trial), they are released with conditions of supervision. The conditions of supervision for a child porn user are indistinguishable from the conditions for a molester. The court treats them the same, even though one is a contact crime and one is not.
Someone who looks at pictures should not be treated as if he did anything more. If you, or someone you know, is facing child porn charges, talk to your attorney about challenging the conditions. Attorneys, too, are accustomed to treating porn users as if they are molesters because the system works that way; you may need to insist that they think differently. Will your protests do any good? Maybe, maybe not. But the more the question comes up, the more we can make people in the justice system think about it in an honest way.