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Sentencing: Here They Go Again: Congress Once More Raises Penalties for Child Pornography Offenses — A Legislative Update
By Mark H. Allenbaugh, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, Tess Lopez and Fay Spence
Over the past 20 years, federal and state law enforcement officials have become zealous proponents of child pornography laws that punish such crimes with increasingly severe sanctions. As a result of the routine imposition of mandatory minimums as well as massive Guideline sentences, sex offenders now constitute — for the first time — the fourth largest group of offenders in the Bureau of Prisons, costing the public well over $307 million a year just to house.1 Practitioners, academics, and even the federal judiciary, however, have consistently criticized such a sentencing scheme that results in child pornography offenders receiving sentences exceeding 11 years’ imprisonment, on average, which is far higher than for any other major offense category.2
In reaction to the criticism of the sentencing guidelines for child pornography offenses, the U.S. Sentencing Commission is in the midst of a comprehensive review of child pornography offenses; observers expect the Commission
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