Why is Child Porn Illegal?

Editor’s Note: Normally, I reserve Friday’s posts for reentry tips and Tuesdays are for legal stories. However, I am working on putting together a big article on reentry in a few weeks. Until then, most of the articles will be legal related or just general information until I complete it.

Also, this article when it was written by my friend K.S., I really questioned whether I should post it or not based on the criteria. I recently read a news article about a former state trooper in Missouri who had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy. Under Missouri state law, this was legal. However, the boy took sexually explicit photos of himself and sent it to the trooper. In the end, the trooper was indicted on federal child pornography charges, punishing him for a picture instead of the actual molestation itself. In the end, it does bring up a discussion that maybe needs to be approached. However, before I go into the article, I do want to make one thing totally clear, #BackSoSoon does NOT support the sexual abuse of any person, male or female, underage or not. Some of the photos and videos were of horrendous acts that should have never happened. Yet, some were completely consensual (although not always a smart idea).

Again, all views and opinions expressed in this article are that of K.S. and not necessarily those of #BackSoSoon.

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With the increased integration of the net into our every lives, child pornography offenses have risen exponentially, as have the efforts of all levels of law enforcement to combat them. Given the growth of spending on this crime, it is worth reexamining the rationale behind these laws, and reevaluating our interests to determine if this is a policy still worthy of pursuit.

In the late 1970s and 80s, child pornography was an underground commercial marketplace, making money on the molestation of children. Obviously, one makes a product to be sold, so the purchaser of that porn was a part of the problem, a sort of accomplice after the fact. And, as such, they shared some of the blame for the crime occurring. Without demand, there would be no supply. So, lawmakers decided to criminalize possession as part o the fight against child molestation.

This argument would seem to exclude those who do not participate in such markets. So, today the rationale no longer applies very well where the vast majority of offenders simply download free materials that have been circulating around the web for years. As easy as it is to explain why it is wrong to pay someone to commit a crime for you-which is essentially what the crime use to be-it is difficult to explain why a person has done something wrong in viewing “1s and 0s” online. Even the deliberate possessor today has a solid grounding to his belief that his actions haven’t hared anyone; no one believes that simply viewing crime scene footage makes them responsible for that crime. Just as watching news reports with crime scene footage is no crime, most viewers today find it hard to understand why their actions are illegal. This is especially true for accidental viewers, a number estimated conservatively at 20-25%.

Changing technology has undermined the purpose of the law. If porn viewers no longer cause or contribute to the actual molestation, it is inappropriate to punish them. This is not just about the rights of the individual, and his interests in avoiding unjust and purposeless incarceration. The massive amounts of time and money spent on catching, prosecuting, and incarcerating otherwise harmless, law abiding citizens could be better spent on other endeavors. The people we incarcerate could continue their jobs and be productive members of society instead of rotting in jail. Most importantly, the Government would stop distributing porn itself.

The laws need not even be abolished, merely modified. There are still rare individuals who fall under the purpose of the law. Adding a few words to the statute can require that any viewer actually have some connection to the actual harm. This would preserve society’s interests in preventing child molestation while preventing pointless incarceration. Government inertia (and easy convictions) have fueled a continuance of this policy long after the underlying reason has stopped. We are ruining lives for nothing.

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#BackSoSoon is a blog dedicated to the successful reintegration of sex offenders back into society. Our Corrlinks address is backsosoonblog@gmail.com and our website is www.backsosoonblog.com which offers the same articles online for your family members to read.

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