News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is child porn the new Salem witch hunt?

All I know about child porn comes from the term itself. I assume it is pornography that involves children. Just what parameters of decency it violates that make it such an egregious crime are matters that I cannot imagine. Furthermore, I have no idea where one would go to find it. And I don't plan to search. Having a search record on one's computer is extremely dangerous. People are convicted to prison constantly for having child pornography on their computers.

That circumstance is what sets off my alarm. The statute on child pornography is quite broad. It defines child pornography as the depiction of any prohibited sexual act with a child. It also has a number of mandates requiring people who might deal with photography films, videos, and computers to report any instances where they find child pornography on media they handle in the course of their businesses. I am confounded by how possession of some depiction of a pornographic act with a child can be conflated into a major crime. If the person who is alleged to have such a depiction but has not acted out any such acts, I ask how the absence of an anti-social act but mere possession can result in a harsh prison sentence and a record of sexual offense.

What brings this to mind is a story in the Rapid City Journal about a 19-year-old who was sentenced to180 days in prison and put on probation for seven years for having child pornography on his computer. He plead guilty to one count which prosecutors said was very disturbing, and his defense lawyer said he acknowledged he was wrong to download the depiction. He was 18 when arrested. No information was contained in the story about who found the depiction and turned him in. So, we readers of this report are given no indication of why he underwent such a harsh prosecution and sentence. What seems to be a mental health issue is regarded as a crime that puts a teenager in prison for six months and puts him on probation for seven years. Any chance he has to build a constructive life is pretty well destroyed by a prison record and being on probation until he is 26. I don't grasp the magnitude of the offense or why he is sentenced to severe punishment rather than a program of rehabilitation. Nor do I understand the quality of justice demonstrated by the prosecution and the defense.

There are many compelling reasons why I have become suspicious and skeptical about child pornography charges. One of them regards a Sioux Falls attorney who was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography but was acquitted by a jury because he was looking at the pornography in preparation for advising clients. South Dakota law protects police officers and lawyers who gaze on child pornography in the course of their work. Federal law does not.

The question that comes to my mind is how this case got to court. If the police and prosecutors had investigated with due diligence, it seems the case could have been resolved without charges being filed. The stories did not indicate just who informed on the lawyer or why such an aggressive prosecution was mounted. Anyone who has witnessed some of the vindictive and prejudicial motives that operate in our justice system must wonder who was out to get this lawyer.

And that gets to some other experiences. I have supported and worked with organizations that investigate wrongful convictions. In one case a local man gave a neighbor woman permission to use his computer while he was out of town on business. She found child porn on it and turned him in to the police. Although convicted of the charge, he denied ever looking at or downloading child porn, and said he did not even know it was on his computer. An investigation revealed that he was very generous about letting other people use his computer, but we could not, of course, identify someone among the many people who had used his computer with evidence that one or more of them had downloaded pornography. The one interesting fact provided by the computer expert in the case was that the woman who found the child porn had to make a concerted and aggressive effort to search the files on the computer.

Another case involved a government official on whose work computer technicians found some pornography. He was forced to resign, but filed a report with an agency that looks into instances of wrongful accusation. We found that a young man in his office had often been seen using the computer when the official was out of the office. However, the official got a better job and willingly departed, but the investigating organization sent the officials who asked for his resignation a letter detailing the information produced by the investigation, along with a severe reprimand for prosecuting a careless and easily disproved accusation.

There were other cases of the sort that have shown the need to rewrite some laws to make officials, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors liable for wrongful accusations and prosecutions that stem from slovenly investigations and malicious prosecutions.


There are people who feel that they have power and consequence only when they can destroy the lives of other people.  There are others who harbor malicious hatred of individuals.  They do not seem to hesitate to use the law and the justice system to realize malevolent self-esteem and pleasure.

It appears that child pornography laws and the justice system is put in service of those motives.  Just as the State of Illinois has engaged in a stringent critical review of its justice system when it pardoned 13 men from death row because of wrongful convictions.

The stench of malice pervades the matter of child pornography prosecutions and convictions.  









7 comments:

Bob Newland said...

The premise for the harsh sentences is that the audience determines the frequency with which children are filmed in "sex acts." Without a market, commercial child porn sites will quit doing bad things.

This is somewhat the same argument used in pursuing "drug" prohibition offenders. If you quit smokin' it, they'll quit sendin' it.

I think it's instructive to look at the results --which are obvious (and exactly the opposite of the stated goals of the proponents)-- of the drug war for clues about child porn prosecutions.

The prosecutors who bring charges in many of these cases (drug AND sex) are gel-haired pricks (almost synonymous with "prosecutor") who have no concept of the degree to which simply the accusation of a violation can ruin a person's life.

Jimmy Turruci said...

The first mistake made by state/local/federal law enforcement is referring to indecent images of children as "child pornography", rather it is not "pornography" because a child cannot give consent. The proper term to be used in investigations is "child sexual abuse images". Just goes to show how much they care about their work right?

Their second mistake is using the supply/demand scenario for child sexual abuse images (CSAM). Several people working in law enforcement are confident that without demand there wouldn't be a supply, but if you think about it there was a supply before there was a demand. The only way supply/demand can be used is if money is involved and considering MOST of the images/videos out there today are free (P2P, TOR, Imageboards, Filehosts).

THe third mistake they have seemed to legitimize through mass hysteria is that someone who "views" or "downloads" CSAM is "re-victimizing" the child all over again. So in essence a pervert sitting in the silence of his room, looking at some images/videos of CSAM is somehow "directly" inflicting harm on the victim as if he/she has extra-sensory perception telling them as to when a pervert is looking at their images/videos of abuse.

The government is now going after high school kids that are "sexting", which is completely absurd. Why does the government feel responsible if some 16 year olds decide to send each other a picture of their genitals? The age of consent is 16...

The sex offender registry is another thing. Did those who were found in possession of CSAM ever physically sexually offend a child if they were sitting in their home not going out and hurting some kid?. The sex offender registry should only be for those who commit "hands-on" offenses against children or vulnerable women.

Lately more and more articles are surfacing where DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is investigation CSAM. What business is it of DHS to investigate this? I thought their responsibilities lie with protecting American citizens from foreign and domestic terrorist attacks?

Overall, I feel that decriminalizing the mere possession should be considered, while possession with intent to distribute or simply distribute and or pay to download should be criminalized. Just think about it state/local/federal law enforcement can download and view all the CSAM they want because it is a part of their "duties". However, no one in the public knows whether these employees joined the force solely to get gratification from viewing these images? How would the public know that LEAs employ those with sexual deviancies?

The whole government is just a bucket of lard and the people need to step up and clean up it's act..

FX Warehouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FX Warehouse said...

My son accidentally downloaded child porn thru peer-to-peer software. He's a musician and used to download music.. but some cp got in as well. Out of 2335 downloads he saw 2 and deleted them right away, they found another that he never even saw.
ICE agents use software similar to peer-to-peer and plugging in a zip code they browse all the computers in that area. He's now in prison, 30 month sentence , 15 years probation and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. Why did he plead guilty? do it or they would up charges to distribution and he was looking at 25 years. . he's only 23 now. Our forensics proved they were accidental but this kind of crime everyone thinks you're guilty. He had no chance to prove his innocence and his life is now ruined. Thanks America. www.SugarForSalt.com

Anonymous said...

My 20 year old nephew was just imprisoned yesterday for 4 years suspended after serving 1 year, and three years probation. Our family has been dealing with this since he was seventeen, and he was accused of possessing cp on his computer. He had never been in trouble for anything in his life. I don't think he had ever even received a detention in school. He had graduated high school, worked full time, and had dreamed of going into the military. His life has been destroyed by our judicial system. The mere accusation of this crime is a death sentence,and we were doomed from the moment we stepped into the court room. He was tried, convicted and executed before he had the chance to state his name in court. This is his first day in prison, and we haven't been able to speak to him. We're worried about his safety, both from other inmates and his own depression over the loss of his life. It's a lot to take in, having your life ruined at age 20.

Fima Fimovich said...

I came to US as Refugee on Human rights violations
in former USSR. My parents were Holocaust survivors.
I had my rights violated again in Minnesota.
I was convicted for p..rn possession in 2003,
and placed on s..x offender register in Minnesota. There was
the same situation: promise 100 years in prison if
I was not plead guilty.
Here you can find description

http://estrinyefim.newsvine.com/_news/2010/07/29/4779710-mitsubishi-electric-automation-abandons-employee

Since 2003 as you may understand I can not find job, only short terms
projects.
Here you can find comparison of my situation as Jew pariah in USSR
and predator pariah in US

http://estrinyefim.newsvine.com/_news/2008/07/15/1667739-a-comparission-between-soviet-jews-and-sex-offenders-in-us

Sueño Martiano said...

Este Pais es el nom plus ultra de la hipocresia, se presenta ante el resto del mundo como los grandes defensores de la libertad y los derechos humanos pero eso en realidad es lo que menos respetan entre sus propios ciudadanos. Basta con señalar la sobrecogedora estadística de que constituyendo solo el 5% de la población mundial, tienen sin embargo hasta un 25% del total de prisioneros en cárceles que hay en el mundo.

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