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The Changing Landscape Of Sentencing Mitigation In Possession of Child Pornography Cases
By Marcia G. Shein
Since 1995, the sentences typically imposed for defendants convicted of federal pornography/prostitution offenses have increased by 300 percent.1 In 1996, only 77 percent of federal child pornography defendants received a prison sentence. In 2006, this number skyrocketed to 97 percent.2 This astronomical increase came about because of the public outcry about such cases, which created media attention due to violent interaction with children or child abuse by individuals classified as pedophiles. Most of the increases are largely the consequences of numerous morality earmarks slipped into larger bills in Congress over the last 15 years, often without notice, debate, or study of any kind. These earmarks increased penalties across the board without distinguishing between “doers” and “viewers.” Further, these earmarks did not take into account other mitigating factors for cases dissimilar to the most severe pedophile child abuse and child pornography production cases. What has been the resu
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