Possession of Child Pornography
This chapter deals with laws criminalizing the possession of child pornography and mandating lengthy prison terms for many of those convicted of this offense, particularly those sentenced in federal courts. It begins with a historical overview of child pornography laws in the United States. It then details current laws and penalties, with particular emphasis on the relationship of the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines to the increasing length of incarceration for those convicted of possessing child pornography. It reviews current psychological data and understanding with regard to child pornography and those who possess it, paying particular attention to the question of whether these individuals are (or are likely to become) “hands-on” child sex offenders. Finally, the chapter looks at US child pornography laws and sentencing from a comparative law perspective, estimates the cost of lengthy prison terms for child pornography offenders, and considers alternative methods to reduce the production, distribution, and possession of child sexual abuse images.
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