Federal judges testified in front of the U.S. Sentencing Commission regarding the abnormally high sentences given for the federal crime of possession of child pornography. The judges asked the Commission to review the criminal sentencing guidelines for possession of child pornography cases. The judges noted that some people are getting inordinately high sentences for sitting in their homes looking at pictures of child pornography that are the same or more than sentences for crimes such as rape and bank robbery. Additionally, the judges noted that people who are convicted of possession of child pornography crimes are receiving sentences that are no less than those for people convicted of manufacturing or commercially distributing child pornography. As a point of reference, one judge noted that in his district, the average sentence for possession of child pornography increased from 50 months to 109 months from 2002 to 2007.
The judges indicated they were not trying to downplay the seriousness of possession of child pornography but were merely trying to ensure that the sentencing guidelines for that crime were appropriate when compared to more serious and violent crimes and also more threatening child pornography crimes such as manufacturing and/or distributing child pornography. The U.S. Sentencing Commission appeared to be receptive to the testimony and may consider adjusting the sentencing guidelines for possession of child pornography crimes in federal court in the future.