April 5, 1995 in Nation/World

Child Porn Bill Passes House 417-0 Measure Directs Commission To Toughen Sentencing Range

Associated Press
 

Prison terms would be increased for people convicted of federal child pornography or prostitution offenses under a “Contract With America” measure approved by the House on Tuesday.

By a 417-0 vote, the House passed the Sexual Crimes Against Children Prevention Act, which directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to change its guidelines to raise the range of sentences for child pornography and prostitution.

The commission, an independent body within the judicial branch, develops guidelines for federal judges to use in sentencing.

“Child pornography and child prostitution are two of the most horrendous and repulsive crimes that can possibly exist,” said Rep. Steven Schiff, R-N.M.

In addition, Schiff said, the growing use of computers for trafficking in child pornography or soliciting children to participate means that it can reach a greatly expanded audience.

Under the new bill’s guidelines, the sentence range for a first-time offender convicted of creating child pornography would be 70 to 87 months, up from the current 57 to 71 months. The range for a first-time offender convicted of trafficking in such pornography would be increased to 24 to 30 months, from the current 18 to 24 months.

Sentences for transporting children across state lines for prostitution or other criminal sexual activity would jump to 30 to 37 months, from 21 to 27 months now.

The Justice Department supports the bill, but Sentencing Commission Chairman Richard Conaboy has objected to it.

“The proposed legislation would increase penalties for trafficking in child pornography without any apparent assessment of sentencing data indicating that current penalties are too lenient,” Conaboy told Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., in a letter last month. McCollum, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, wrote the bill.

Conaboy noted that the penalties previously were increased in November 1991.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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