Saturday, January 30, 2016

in the interests of justice, a 5-day child porn sentence

In Brooklyn, a man plead guilty to possession of child porn. Federal guidelines recommended a 6.5 to 8 year prison sentence. The judge sentenced him to five days.

Five days.
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein wrote a 98-page decision explaining why he bypassed the guidelines and chose not to put the man in prison for possessing two dozen photos and videos — some showing men sexually assaulting girls as young as 3 years old, according to court papers.
 Ninety-eight pages! This judge wants to be understood.
"Removing R.V. from his family will not further the interests of justice," Weinstein wrote, using the defendant's initials. 
Not the interests of retribution or the interests of disgust and fear, but the interests of justice.
"It will cause serious harm to his young children by depriving them of a loving father and role model and will strip R.V. of the opportunity to heal through continued sustained treatment and the support of his close family."
The judge recognizes something important: the defendant's five children would be at risk if their father went to prison, he would not get needed treatment in prison, and the man is not a danger to society.
The existing guidelines, Weinstein wrote, do not "adequately balance the need to protect the public, and juveniles in particular, against the need to avoid excessive punishment."
Protecting juveniles includes the defendant's kids as well as kids who sext. Kids who sext, as foolish as they might be, should not be considered producers of child pornography nor do they deserve the long sentences called for in the guidelines.
...Weinstein thought [6.5 to 8 years] was too much time for an offender who did not make, swap or sell child porn or try to abuse children. He said the five days the man served before making bail, plus seven years of court supervision and a fine, were punishment enough.
Seven years of court supervision may not be prison but it is not a light sentence by any means.
The judge noted that the man was undergoing sex offender treatment and was deemed unlikely to relapse and that a psychiatrist testified he was not a danger to his own or other children. He also noted that the Internet has made child pornography accessible to a much wider group of Americans who might not otherwise have been exposed to it.
More and more people seek out pornography because it is so easily--and so privately!--available on the Internet. Mandatory reporting laws make certain that those who want help to stop looking at child porn have no sure way to get help without being turned in to law enforcement.
Those who favor tougher sentences point out that while many consumers of child pornography may not never [sic] lay a hand on a child, some do. And all, they say, play a role in a system that promotes the abuse of children.
Yes, some do. Why not punish them for what they did instead of punishing all child porn downloaders as if they did?
"The viewing has a market-creation effect," Cassel said. "It ends up leading inexorably to the rape of children."
Again, those who rape anyone, adult or child, ought to be punished for rape. Someone who commissions a sexual assault against anyone, adult or child, should be punished.

Those who look at a video of a crime should not be punished for a crime already committed by someone else or for a crime yet to be committed by someone else.
Jennifer Freeman, an attorney who represents child-porn victims in efforts to obtain restitution, called Weinstein's opinion "a diatribe" and said he was using the particulars of one case to indict the entire sentencing structure.
The entire sentencing structure is built around the idea that every child porn case is the same and every child porn viewer is the same. The particulars of each case ought to matter.

Because those who create vile child porn are so difficult to find and prosecute, the criminal justice system comes down hardest on those who are easiest to find.

Punishment by proxy.

Judge Weinstein has long opposed the lengthy sentences recommended for child porn offenses.


Missy Manny said...

You're gross gross gross. Just because you married a loser who got his jollies off watching kids be tortured.

Your hubby deserves to rot in hell.

Shelomith Stow said...

Very good column; your points, just like the judge's points, are supported by research and empirical evidence.

Missy Manny, I won't even try to guess what your problem is, but it seems to me that your points would be better made if you actually addressed them rather than launching a personal attack on the author. If you want to debate her points, then state the ones you have, presumably in favor of longer sentencing, and give some supporting evidence for that stance.

And as far as hell, I am perfectly content to leave that judgement up to God.

Anonymous said...

This woman is NOT gross she is very brave for not only sticking with her husband which I am sure was not an easy decision to make but for also putting her life out here on the internet for all of us to read. I support her decision to keep her family together.I don't know how old/young her children are but she obviously felt their need for a WHOLE family outweighed any need to pile more misery on her husband which he did NOT need. As long as he learns from this and gets the needed counseling and abides by the rules and regulations once he is released I see no need to continue to punish him.Do I think a prison sentence is what he deserved? Yes of course I do but I also believe people DO have the capacity to grown and to change. This by the way is coming from a former victim of this crime and not somebody that has NO idea what he or she would do if they were in this situation.

TheWife said...

A good breakdown of a common sense judgement. Sex Offender is not a one size fits all label and this must be recognised when sentencing those who have accessed illegal content. Generally in the UK sentencing is erratic and varies from judge to judge. You may find this article regarding the Good Lives programme being delivered to sex offenders with custodial sentences.

For non custodial offenders a programme called Moving Forward, Making Changes is delivered in the community, it is an evidence based approach that focuses on positive changes and described by the Scottish Government as such:

"MFMC focuses on those individuals considered as presenting a significant risk of committing similar offences in the
future. The new programme uses the latest research, evidence and practice in effectively working with men who
commit sexual offences to reduce their reoffending and to increase opportunities to build a satisfying and
productive life."

I'm unsure if posting URL links in comments is considered bad etiquette here, I thought it would be of interest of you to see how other countries are approaching the issue.