Increase penalties for dealers, customers of child pornography
The state Legislature should bolster the fight against child pornography with a pair of bills designed to kills the supply of pornographic materials by going after pornography consumers.
THE state Legislature should act on a pair of anti-child pornography bills.
The bill that passed the House and is now being considered in the Senate would strengthen current law by basing child-pornography criminal charges on each visual or printed item. A new crime of intentionally viewing over the Internet visual or printed matter depicting a minor would also be created.
Law enforcement needs a bigger bat to address child pornography. Tens of thousands of images are posted on the Internet every week. Children younger than 5 are featured in 58 percent of them. Those who regularly view child pornography often also molest children.
The tougher strategy proposed by lawmakers and supported by prosecutors is twofold. First, charging defendants for each image allows prosecutors to impose multiple counts and increase criminal penalties. Users of child pornography should be charged for each individual act. Every photograph is a crime against a child.
The second part strikes at consumers of child pornography. These people are as bad as producers because a child had to suffer in order to satisfy their desires.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, who has teamed up with other attorneys general to stamp out the child-pornography industry, made a rare appearance to testify on behalf of the Senate bills.
McKenna's informed voice was one benefit. His heart-rending example of the Kent couple charged with raping a 4-year-old and showing the act via live streaming video effectively killed any wavering about the need for this bill.
This is the third year in a row law enforcement has sought stiffer penalties for child-porn viewing. They should get it this time.
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