“Another Good Idea”

A group from the Buffalo, NY area, CautionClick (www.cautionclick.com), has sent this proposed letter to be passed on to those who represent anyone reading this. Please pass it on to others and print copies to mail to those addresses posted, as well as to your individual representatives.

Thank you,

We are attaching a copy of a letter we would like to encourage you all to send out to your individual federal representatives as well as to both

Honorable Bob Goodlatte,
Chairman Committee of Judiciary
US House of Representatives
2309 Rabyburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
202 225 5431
Fax 202 225 9681

Honorable Patrick J. Leahy,
Chairman, US Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirkson Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
202 224 7703
Fax 202 224 9516

We would encourage you to send a copy of this letter to your family members to send out their own copies of the letter to their representatives as well. We would like to get the message out that we support the distinctions that the USSC is making with sentencing and encourage any type of reform of the current system. Every letter helps send a message that there are many people out there that support this thinking..

Make sure you include your return address. It is necessary on all correspondence with elected officials.

Thank you.



In December of 2012 the United States Sentencing Commission released a report entitled “Federal Child Pornography Offenses” (available in full at ussc.gov). The report is the result of a multi year process in which the USSC examined cases of offenders sentenced under the federal sentencing guidelines and corresponding penal statues concerning child pornography offenses.

The conclusion of this report states “The Commissions report is intended to provide Congress and the various stake holders in the federal criminal justice system with relevant and thorough information about child pornography offenses and offenders. As illustrated by the report, child pornography offenses result in substantial and indelible harm to children who are victimized by both production and non-production offenses. However, there is a growing belief among many interested parties that the existing sentencing scheme in non-production offenses no longer distinguishes adequately among offenders based on their degrees of culpability and dangerousness. Numerous stakeholders-including the Department of Justice, the federal defender community, and the Criminal Law Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States Courts-have urged the Commission and Congress to revise the non-production sentencing scheme to better reflect the growing body of knowledge about offense and offender characteristics and to better account for offenders varying degrees of culpability and dangerousness.”

“The Commission believes that the current non-production guideline warrants revision in view of its outdated and disproportionate enhancements related to offenders collecting behavior as well as its failure to account fully for some offender s involvement in child pornography communities and sexually dangerous behavior. The current guideline produces overly severe sentencing ranges for some offenders, unduly lenient ranges for other offenders, and wide spread inconsistent application. A revised guideline that more fully accounts for all three factors-the full range of an offender s collecting behavior, the degree of his involvement in a child pornography community, and any history of sexually dangerous behavior-would better promote proportionate sentences and reflect the statutory purposes of sentencing. Such a revised guideline, together with a statutory structure that aligns the penalties for receipt and possession, would reduce the unwarranted sentencing disparities that currently exist. The Commission also suggests that Congress may wish to revise the penalty structure governing distribution offenses in order to differentiate among the wide array of newer and older technologies used by offenders to distribute child pornography. Finally, the Commission also recommends to Congress that it consider amending the notice and restitution statutes for victims of child pornography offenses. The Commission stands ready to work with Congress, the Federal Judiciary, the Executive Branch, and others in the federal criminal justice community to improve the sentencing scheme for these extremely serious offenses.”

I support the findings of this report and ask you to give consideration toward amending the sentencing guidelines concerning child pornography offenses.

Thank you for your time and consideration,





“Seek to do what is right.”  Zephaniah  2:3b  NLT

“We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated
in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were
the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions
in the light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We
owe it to future generations to explain why.”
Robert S. McNamara  “In Retrospect”

In this day of ‘fiscal cliffs’, ‘sequestration’, trillion dollar deficits, and immature, irresponsible partisan posturing, and dangerous games of ‘political chicken’, the American public is owed a LOT of explanations.

It is rare for those who are elected and paid by the taxpaying public to OFFER those explanations, let alone admit, as Mr. McNamara did, that any explanation is owed.

In spite of that, there is ONE explanation that every decent American should DEMAND of its leaders and lawmakers and it is this: “Why do you refuse to utilize existing technology, and common sense, to provide meaningful and substantial protection to this nation’s children?”

The valiant CAUSE of protecting our most valuable resource is one that is thrust upon us daily. Be that as it may, even though laws that claim ‘protection’ are passed with mind-numbing frequency and in equally mind-numbing numbers, each one of them does little more than lead us further down the one-way-only road of ‘pursuit, prosecution, and punishment’ and do little to provide any real protections to those who most need it. While this is an absolutely necessary road to follow, it should not be the ONLY one.

The very sad truth is that failure to utilize the tools at our disposal effectively has led to the FURTHER exploitation and victimization of countless children who have already suffered the loss of their innocence as a result of child sexual abuse. This failure is a result of decisions made to ignore our capability to take major steps toward blocking the proliferation and prevalence of Internet child pornography from this country’s homes.

In countless speeches given by angry, indignant, and concerned politicians, the phrase “We must STOP child pornography and protect our children!” has been used to great effect in garnering attention and getting votes. It is time for Americans everywhere to demand an explanation from those same people as to why the available technology and know-how to do those very things has not been implemented.

Following is the template for a letter that I hope people will use – and encourage others to do the same – demanding the explanation as to why all of the things that CAN be done are NOT being done. The letter also outlines the technology available and outlines how it could – and SHOULD – be used to prevent further harm from befalling those who have already suffered too much and deserve better than they have received.

I invite you to read the letter and then copy it (or write your own), sign it, and send it to each senator and representative in your state, as well as to Attorney General Holder, and President Obama. I have addressed this template to President Obama for convenience. I will be sending it to him and asking men around me to do the same.

Dear President Obama,

Tonight, in tens of thousands of  homes across this great nation, children will go to bed afraid of the visit that will come when all is quiet. They will go to bed dreading the unholy violation of their innocence that will take place when they should be able to sleep peacefully, dreaming the dreams of children. But instead of dreaming, these children will be trembling quietly under the covers, fearfully anticipating the trespass against their bodies and their minds that will leave them empty of everything but their humiliation, their shame, and their loneliness.

In this digital age, the rape and sexual abuse of children is compounded by the making of permanent records of that abuse. To add to the torment, pain, and the embarrassment that these victims suffer, far too many of those images and videos find their way onto the Internet where they are circulated and viewed by untold thousands of people. The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children has ‘logged’ over 50 MILLION different images of child pornography into its database. Software, developed by companies such as Microsoft has been donated to law enforcement and is used by Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) such as AOL to ‘read’ the ‘digital fingerprints’ of these images as they pass through their servers in order to identify, apprehend, and prosecute those who would view, sell, or share them.

This is as it should be, as there are individuals out there who will stop at nothing to obtain and distribute these heartbreaking images of the rape and abuse of innocent children. Unfortunately, limiting the use of available technology to ‘pursuit, prosecution, and punishment’ actually ALLOWS child pornography to proliferate virtually unchecked and, rather than PROTECTING these unfortunate children, actually CONTRIBUTES to their further exploitation and victimization.

Allow me to illustrate my point:

Last year, the Southern District Director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was arrested for possession of child pornography. Software utilized by AOL, the individual’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) detected the ‘digital fingerprints’ of three images of child pornography in an email DURING TRANSMISSION to the Director’s home computer. The images were allowed to proceed, the FBI was notified, a search warrant was obtained, the computer was seized, and the individual was arrested and prosecuted.

An important point to consider is this: The damage to the child is done when the person VIEWS the images, not when he, or she, is apprehended. At that point, it is too late to prevent further harm to the victim.

Mr. President, what if a different scenario had taken place? What if the individual had first been sent, by AOL, a clear warning outlining the dangerous territory into which he was stepping? Allow me to illustrate further by first examining what Google does for its users in China. It seems that searching for certain words or phrases in China can lead to the government cutting the user’s Internet connection. As a service to their users, Google now has warning ‘flags’ that drop down and inform the user of the possibility of the loss of connection when they type certain words into the search fields.

In the case of someone searching for child pornography, what if a ‘flag’ were to drop down when certain terms were typed in? An example of such a warning would be:


“The use of certain search terms could result in the accidental, or intentional, downloading of child pornography which is a SERIOUS CRIME! These images depict innocent children being raped and sexually abused and viewing or sharing these images with others further traumatizes these victims. Penalties for receiving, possessing, and sharing or otherwise distributing child pornography WILL result in imprisonment for terms up to 25 YEARS OR MORE! Furthermore, convicted sex offenders will be required to register with law enforcement for a period of 15 years to LIFE!

The same holds true where actual emails or downloads are in progress. The software AOL utilized could very easily be modified to BLOCK the images completely. In lieu of that, at the very LEAST, modifications could be made so that a warning message is transmitted before the actual images themselves are allowed to go through. An example of such a warning is:


“Your Internet Service Provider’s software has detected images that contain child pornography being sent, or being downloaded, to your computer. These images depict innocent children being sexually abused, and viewing or sharing these images with others further traumatizes these victims. In addition, penalties for receiving, possessing, and distributing or sharing child pornography WILL result in imprisonment for up to 25 YEARS OR MORE! Convicted sex offenders will also be required to register with law enforcement for a period of 15 years to LIFE!


NO          YES

CAUTION: If you click ‘YES’, your ISP is required by law to notify the FBI

These warnings COULD have a dramatic impact on the downloading, viewing, and sharing of these horrific images and could greatly reduce the additional trauma and victimization of innocent children.

Mr. President, the time has come to STOP the proliferation of Internet child pornography. The time has come to STOP all of the political grandstanding that takes place under the guise of ‘protecting’ children. The time has come to STOP the further exploitation of children already traumatized by being raped and sexually abused.

Mr. President, the time has come to START protecting the children of this country by demanding an immediate Congressional hearing to ask WHY the simple steps outlined have NOT been taken. This is not new technology by any means.

The February 26 issue of the Wall Street Journal carried an article about a “coordinated effort to deal with subscribers (of ISPs) who illegally download movies, TV shows, and music.” How will this be achieved? Primarily through the use of WARNINGS similar to those outlined here. “The goal is to change behavior and get people to pay attention,” said Jill Lesser.

Should that NOT be the goal where child pornography is concerned as well? Should we not want people to change their behavior and pay attention?

Mr. President, I must ask you: Are we REALLY a nation that is more concerned with the downloading of movies that are not paid for than we are with the downloading of movies and pictures depicting the RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE OF INNOCENT CHILDREN?

Taking the steps outlined will not eliminate child pornography or child sexual abuse. These steps CAN do more to contribute to the reduction in Internet child pornography and the further victimization of innocent children than the aggregate effect of ALL the laws (and there are literally hundreds nationwide) that have been passed in recent years that carry a child’s name or the words “Child Protection Act”. These simple steps can also increase sensitivity and awareness among the public and serve to enlighten and educate. These steps can also have the added benefit of causing unthinking individuals to ‘wake up’ and realize the horrors represented by child pornography.

There is simply no plausible reason or explanation as to why these steps cannot be implemented with lightening speed! If the desire is to allow these shameful images to circulate to catch those who might look at them, let me point out something that should be painfully obvious: These are not GUNS that are being allowed to be sold illegally in order to track them to the criminals who purchased them. These are PICTURES and VIDEOS depicting the RAPE and SEXUAL ABUSE of INNOCENT CHILDREN.

Software developers, Internet Service Providers, and the United States Department of Justice should appear before a Congressional committee to determine WHY these steps are not being taken to protect our children and our country.

I will close by sharing a thought attributed to Helen Keller:

“I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything. But still, I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I CAN do!”

The steps outlined in this letter represent something that CAN be done. Please do NOT refuse to do it!



April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and Child Sexual Abuse Awareness (CSA) Month. This is a perfect time to mail this letter, or one similar to it, to as many Legislators, Congressmen, Governors, newspapers, and anyone else you can think of.

I also urge you to share it with your friends and family so they can mail it to as many people as possible too. The steps listed CAN make a huge difference.

I thank you.

“Unnecessary Harm And Confusion – Fast And Furious, The Sequel”

“For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:7 NLT

“For my part, I think it less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part.” – Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Olmstead vs. The United States (1928)

Attorney General Eric Holder said recently that a 471-page report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz made it clear that he took immediate action to stop the tactics used in the seriously flawed “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation once he learned about them. In fact, according to the September 20, 2012 Wall Street Journal, Holder denounced those who were “so quick to make baseless accusations that turned out to be without foundation and that have caused a great deal of unnecessary   harm and confusion.”

The “unnecessary harm and confusion” that may have been caused is nothing compared to the totally unnecessary harm and confusion those 2,000 illegal weapons Holder’s employees negligently allowed to fall into the hands of dangerous criminals will cause to untold individuals and their families.

When will this nation learn that anytime those who are charged with upholding the law place themselves above the law and employ tactics that border on criminal acts to catch individuals in criminal activity that they created, the public winds up paying an exorbitant price? No matter what lofty goals were envisioned; no matter what eloquent explanations are given, placing 2,000 “mostly variants of AK-47 rifles” into the hands of men predisposed to use them is an act that I feel confident saying Justice Holmes would classify as “ignoble.” And that would be if he were being beneficent.

For any agent of the United States government to promote illegal activity to combat it goes far beyond being “ignoble” and approaches an act that teeters on the edge of criminality.

The congressional probe of Operation Fast and Furious was led by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rep. Darrell Issa of California. Both expressed “outrage and indignation” over the incident and called on Mr. Holder to “hold people accountable.”

Jason Weinstein, a top aide to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, resigned from the Justice Department on September 18. Kenneth Melson, former ATF Acting Director, retired from the Justice Department on September 19. The ATF, according to the Journal, said it would “use the report to pursue disciplinary investigations which could result in firings or other administrative sanctions.”

Perhaps Senator Grassley and Representative Issa can now be persuaded to “express outrage and indignation” regarding an even more “seriously flawed” operation being conducted by the Justice Department. I refer to the ongoing efforts to ensnare those who would look at child pornography. I say “seriously flawed” because the current approach to solving the problem of the spread of child pornography, can never achieve results other than negative ones that cause ‘unnecessary harm and confusion.” These results include the totally unnecessary incarceration of tens of thousands of individuals; the effective destruction of their families; and – most important of all – the inadvertent aiding in the distribution of child pornography not only to adults but to children as young as 11 years old. Eleven years old is the average age at which children are exposed to Internet pornography and, sad to say, if one can find pornography, one can find child pornography.

At the Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) National Conference in early September in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Senator Cisco McSorley of that state said, “I am sick and tired of politicians who won’t take a stand on controversial issues.”

Perhaps Senator McSorley can get together with Senator Grassley and Representative Issa and stand up to do the right thing, which is to demand that the Justice Department and Internet Service Providers move immediately to end the “unnecessary harm and confusion” that this preventable pandemic causes in America each and every day. The victims suffer; the families of victims suffer; the families of those incarcerated for viewing these images suffer; those arrested suffer and society itself suffers immeasurably.

Given the fact that much of what transpires today is preventable, I am not sure that “harm and confusion” even begins to come close to describing the avoidable carnage wrought by another “pattern of serious failures” in this tragic chapter in American history. More jail time is not the answer.

More people in jail is not the answer. The answer is to eliminate the images; to stop them from entering this nation’s homes in the first place; to use available technology to prevent, not promote illegal activity.

Justice Holmes also heard another case in which he made a comment I find particularly relevant. The case was Schenck vs. the United States (1919) and it was a famous one that concerned an individual’s right to free speech. Justice Holmes said that the Constitutional right of free speech did not give an individual the right to stand up in a crowded theater and shout “fire”, creating a panic.

Any time discussions are entered into concerning the blocking of anything on the Internet, the subject of free speech emerges. Let us consider the words of Justice Holmes in “Schenck”: The question in every case is whether the ”words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has the right to prevent.”

In this case, child pornography constitutes “the words.” The “clear and present danger” to this nation by child pornography can hardly be disputed. The “substantive evil” that child pornography brings into this country’s homes is not only the right of Congress to prevent, it is Congress’ duty.

Let us hope that Mr. Grassley, Mr. Issa, Mr. McSorley or any of the other men and women elected to serve the people of this country stand up and address this problem in the right way.

They have the power to lock the door on child pornography. And they must.

“A Child Protection Act That Doesn’t”

“I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray.”           – 1 John 2:26 NLT

“Mr. Kremlin himself was distinguished for ignorance, for he had only one idea – and that was wrong.”   – Benjamin Disraeli

      On June 29, 2012, Texas Congressman Lamar Smith introduced H.R. 6063, a bill which, on its surface, is as noble and well-intentioned as a piece of legislation can possibly be.  Titled “The Child Protection Act of 2012,” it would be difficult for anyone to find fault with its lofty purported goal – to protect children.

      While I cannot find fault with the goal, the bill itself is a misguided, misinformed,  and useless piece of pompous political puffery and does little if anything at all to protect any child from anything. In fact, it diverts still more funds and attention away from any sincere effort to provide protection for those identified in its inappropriately named title.  H.R. 6063 is shameless political grandstanding at its lowest which actually exploits the very children it claims to protect for purely political gain.

      Too harsh? Probably not harsh enough since Mr. Smith and his staff demonstrate surprising insensitivity  and a true lack of understanding of the very problem for which H.R. 6063 claims to offer a solution – how to protect the children of America. This lack of understanding borders on incompetence at its best and blatant exploitation at its worst. In either scenario, a case could be made against Mr. Smith’s fitness to  serve the public.

      Let’s review some of the statements he made while introducing this bill. First, he states that the bill “increases penalties for the possession of child pornography.” According to nationally published data, 76% of the nation’s federal judges feel the guidelines and enhancements for possession of child pornography are too high already, resulting in many thousands of individuals spending much more time in federal prison for looking at pictures than many of the individuals who perform the acts depicted in the pictures themselves.

      Second, Rep. Smith claims that H.R. 6063 “helps prevent more victims by raising the penalties for those who hurt our children.”  Again, he is attacking the problem on the back end, after the damage has been done. The root cause of harm to children in this country is never addressed.

      Third, he further states, “Internet child pornography may be the fastest growing crime in America, increasing on average of 150% each year.” The reality is, if the personnel and prison space were available, prosecutions could increase by ten times 150% per year because the number of computers that contain some form or d fragment of child pornography on them is estimated at 75% or higher by some sources. The answer to the child pornography issue lies in preventing it from being produced.

      Fourth, Mr. Smith states, “Every day these online criminals prey on our children with virtual anonymity.” Our movements, actions and interests are all known by our Internet Service  Providers (ISPs). There is no real anonymity. If there is an increase in the availability of child pornography online, then the ISPs as well as the Justice Department should be held liable for civil and criminal damages since it is within their ability to detect, filter and eliminate it at the source or, at the very least, severely limit its  dissemination.

      The bald truth is that H.R. 6063 offers little more than an attention-getting banner to be waved by Mr. Smith as he campaigns for reelection. It offers precious little in the way of honest attempts to address the very real horrors of sexual abuse that hundreds of thousands of American children face every day. For Mr. Smith to attempt to capitalize on their pain and loss of innocence for political gain is shameful in the extreme.

      For the most part, all Mr. Smith does address is child pornography and this he discusses with a  statement that demonstrates how off-target he and his staff (like so many lawmakers) are. It is difficult to get the real problem addressed because they are too fixed on riding the vote-garnering wave of the easy problem.  The real problem, the root of this evil mess, is the child sexual abuse that enables child pornography to exist in the first place.

       Mr. Smith flaunted his ignorance regarding the root cause of the problem when he said, “Trafficking of child pornography images was almost completely eradicated in America by the mid-1980s. Purchasing or trading these images was risky and almost impossible to do anonymously. But the advent of the Internet reversed this accomplishment”. Mr. Smith spoke as though child pornography was the problem. Child pornography was a separate problem created as a result of the root problem of the sexual abuse of children. At no time does Mr.-Smith give any indication that he understands this.

      The approach of Mr. Smith and many other legislators is tantamount to implying that the drug addict is the problem rather than the result of the real problem – the production and distribution of drugs. The more accurate statement is, if there wel:e no drugs, we would have no drug addicts. Similarly, if child sexual abuse did not exist~, there would be no child pornography, since every single instance of child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse.

      This nation’s lawmakers have proven to be woefully inadequate and ineffective in the war on drugs. Do we really want to repeat the litany of mistakes made in that ill-conceived effort? Why not focus on the real problem and work toward a meaningful solution rather than being subjected to a tiresome parade of cheap political smokescreens such as that advanced by Rep. Smith. As for his specious claim that the goal of protecting our children was almost attained in the 1980s, nothing could be further from the  truth.

      Just ask anyone of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who were sexually abused as children during that time. Just because there may not have been an availability of the images recording these children’s pain does not mean there was no pain to record. Because there was a scarcity of video does not mean there was a lack of inexcusable, horrific acts to film.

      A tree falling in the forest when there is no one around to hear it fall still makes a sound and children still cried out as a result of the violation of their innocence and dignity, even if people like Mr. Smith truly believe that the problem was almost solved simply because there appeared to be an absence of photographic evidence.

      The sad and. simple truth is that children have always been at risk. But they have never been at greater risk than they are when in the “safety” of their own homes. It is a very well documented and unfortunate fact of life that fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles and family friends – even mothers – account for the overwhelming majority of all sexual abuse of children and some professionals estimate that as many as one in three females has suffered sexual abuse as a child.

      Consider the following information from the book “Perverted Justice” by Charles Patrick Ewing (Oxford University Press, 2011):

According to a report written in 2000 by Howard N. Snyder from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident and Offender Characteristics,” “Children were very unlikely to be sexually victimized by people they did not know.” In fact, the report gave the following statistics for different age groups of girls who were sexually abused:

– Girls ages 0-5;          51.1% family; 45.9% acquaintances; 3% strangers

– Ages 6-11;                43.8% family;  51.4% acquaintances;  4.8% strangers

– Ages 12-17;              24.3% family; 65.7% acquaintances; 10% strangers

      Since the primary objective is to effectively protect the children, we must first define the things we must endeavor to protect them from:

1) Children have a right to be protected from child sexual abuse and the furt erance of that abuse through the production of photographic images which record it.

2) Children have a right to be protected from the intentional and unintentional viewing of that recorded abuse by individuals unknown to the victims. These individuals help to perpetuate the emotional victimization of the children when they are aware that their abuse is being viewed by strangers.

      So I ask you, Mr. Smith: How does “The Child Protection Act of 2012” protect the children of this country from sexual abuse?   The clear answer is that it does not.

      There are far too many empty promises on the law books already, Mr. Smith. Another one, regardless of how nobly it is titled, is not needed. There is no room, nor is there any time to waste, on any more “professional poisoning of the public mind,” to borrow a phrase from Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

      In a previous article, I said we must “lock the door on child pornography,” and this we must do, but we must also throw open the door of truth and examine the ugliness that lies beyond 1t and has created millions of broken-hearted and broken-spirited people in this country. It is time to do something that will create positive change in fragile lives and not just enhance political careers.

      I tear nothing down without offering a possible solution or, at least, constructive positive suggestions with which to replace that which I criticize. With that said, I now submit the following steps for addressing the aforementioned concerns and ensuring the rights of America’s children to grow up as safely as possible:

      The language of any constructive bill should clearly and emphatically require all Internet Service Providers to utilize all available technology to stem the flow of child pornography and prevent the images of horror that their filters have captured from further damaging the lives of those victimized in them. A more detailed essay on this point is contained in “A Necessary Intrusion: Perhaps the Wrong People Are Behind Bars,” an earlier posting on this blog.

      To address the root problem, that of the sexual abuse itself, I will first point out that every state has a child protective services agency that is underutilized, understaffed, underfunded and overworked. To combat child sexual abuse in America, I propose the following five items:

1) Priority funding for child protective services should be provided to allow reorganization, rededication of purpose, staff increases and restructuring to include higher standards of performance and increased levels of training specifically to recognize and deal with sexual abuse. Increased staffing levels, lower caseloads and greater  accountability will prove invaluable in any sincere effort to protect children and enhance their safety. These agencies should be a priority in every state and federal guidelines for performance goals and funding to help meet those goals should be provided.

2) Priority funding for top-level psychological assistance for discovered victims, including faith-based counseling if it is desired.

3) Make educational awareness a priority at all levels up to and including high school. Make trained counselors available and set up local and national hotlines for those too timid to come forward, ensuring that they are manned with trained, compassionate and sincere personnel – perhaps even survivors of sexual abuse.  Make certain all available education and information reaches low income, ethnic and foreign language areas in the community.

4) Interact with national child sexual abuse organizations such as “Stop the Silence” to help devise ways to reach out to victims of all ages using rallies in auditoriums and gymnasiums featuring survivors of sexual abuse as speakers to encourage victims to come forward and get help to stop the abuse.

5) Priority funding for a national ad campaign in multiple languages with radio, television, print and  billboard coverage to eliminate the silence on this subject and get victims to seek counseling assistance. These efforts should include print ads and television public service announcements detailing the existing penalties concerning illegal images; the very sentences Rep. Smith proposes to increase. A broad spectrum of the public should be made aware that the viewing, downloading, possession and trading of child pornography will result in a sentence of from five to twenty years in a federal prison and the creation and production of those images will net the offender a sentence ranging from twenty years to life.

      This list, Mr. Smith, is in no way as complete as it can be but it should serve as a solid base from which to put together a plan that will begin to affect change.

      I challenge you, and your fellow lawmakers, to get to work doing the right thing for America’s children. You just might get reelected in the process for doing something worthwhile.

      At the very least, you will be able to say you really did act to protect the children of America.

Judgement Day

    “Judges, like people, may be divided into roughly four classes: Judges with no heart – they are to be avoided at all costs; Judges with heads but no hearts – they are almost as bad; Judges with hearts but no heads – risky, but better than the first two; And finally, those rare Judges who possess both head and heart – thanks to blind luck, that’s our           Judge.”  Robert Traver

                                         “….he must never judge unfairly.”  Proverbs  10:10b  NLT

      Black-robed men and women occupy raised platforms of power, gazing down upon those charged with violating one or more of society’s laws. They have the last word in the proceedings prior to slamming the gavel down, signifying finality in the issue before the court. The sound as the gavel strikes should signal final judgment and an end to the matter, but while these proceedings may end here for those charged with enforcing and adjudicating the law, it is only the beginning for those being sentenced to what are often unconscionable lengths of time in prison.

      The chain of events that brought the concerned parties together in the courtroom did not begin there by any means. Long before there is final judgment in the case of a law being broken, there is the process whereby those elected to make society’s laws determine what is, and what is not, acceptable behavior in a civilized world. State and federal legislators must use THEIR judgment to determine what laws are required, and then must decide what sort of punishment is correct – and just – in each instance.

      It is here, in the beginning, where the heads AND hearts of men and women must be used in unison. It is here, in the beginning, that fairness must be the prevailing doctrine: fairness to any victims that may have been involved; fairness to the families of victims and offenders alike; fairness even to the one who broke the law; and fairness to the society to which they all belong.

      This requires that the judgment of those writing the laws of this country and setting the penalties for violating them be constructive, thoughtful, purposeful, and balanced. At no point should politics, partisanship, or emotion hold any sway when determining for what reason, and for how long, an individual will be deprived of his or her freedom, family, and friends for a violation of America’s rules and regulations. Anything less than total mindfulness of the needs of all concerned demonstrates contempt for the process and should not be tolerated.

      America sets itself apart from the rest of the world in many positive ways, but how America’s laws are written and the philosophy of corrections in this country are decidedly NOT among them. It is here that America demonstrates the arrogant, know-it-all attitude for which other civilized, genteel societies of the world have expressed loathing on more than one occasion.

      While we can claim only 5% of the world’s inhabitants, America houses 25% of the entire world’s jail and prison population. This is NOT an insignificant fact, and one that is more closely connected to the dynamics of economics than the lawful and orderly protection of society. Despite all of the human beings who are kept in cages as one would cage animals, America can lay no claim to better records of safety for its citizens than those of other free societies who imprison individuals far less frequently and for far less periods of time.

      As evidenced by the above numbers, it would appear that much of the rest of the civilized world has a vastly different philosophy regarding prison time as a deterrent to crime than does the United States. One of the areas in which there is great disparity between the U. S. and other countries of similar – or perhaps greater –  levels of sophistication, civility and culture is in the sentencing of individuals convicted of possession of child pornography.

      This is a problem of great sensitivity and intense emotion that has grown to catastrophic proportions in this country. There are no excuses for it; there is no justification. But an even greater tragedy for this nation as a whole is growing out of the way we are dealing with it, particularly on a federal level.

      In articles published in June and July of this year, two men of similar ages and occupation were sentenced after having pleaded guilty to child pornography charges. Neither was responsible for the abuse recorded in the pictures and videos recovered. They both used computers to obtain and store the images and videos. One man is a United States citizen, the other is Canadian.

Briefly, the stories:

      Michael Robert Hall, 31, from Winnipeg accessed a Yahoo.com group called ‘Perv’s Dream’ where users shared images with one another. Computers seized from Hall’s home contained over 3,300 images of children modeling and posing in addition to 19 illegal pornographic images of children between the ages of 4 and 12 engaged in degrading sexual acts with adult males.

      Daniel J. Borque, 33, of Erath, La was found to have used an internet peer-to-peer site to receive child pornography. Found on computers in his home were 15 videos and 630 images.

      Mr. Borque received 12 years in federal prison followed by 15 years of supervised release.

      Mr. Hall was sentenced to the ‘legislated mandatory minimum’ of 14 DAYS in jail followed by 18 months probation. The prosecutor had asked for 90 days in jail.

      I do not profess to have intimate knowledge of Canada’s laws or judicial processes, but the facts are stated as they were printed, so I will interpret ‘legislated mandatory minimum’ to mean just that.

      The U.S. federal mandatory minimum for receipt of child pornography (and one can not logically possess it without receiving it) is 5 years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release up to life. This is in addition to any additional charges for the possession itself, and distribution (for sharing on a peer-to-peer site even if there was no exchange of money) – both of which are commonly added charges.

      Canada is generally viewed as being a safe, cultured, civil, genteel country whose inhabitants are almost universally viewed as being polite and well-mannered. One would have to think that, given the nature of Canadian society, their philosophy regarding incarceration has evolved as a result of that constructive, thoughtful,  purposeful and balanced fairness that I referred to earlier. These things seem to be sorely missing from the approach employed by THIS nation’s lawmakers.

      It is very unlikely that America’s indisputably disproportionate sentencing policies reflect a higher regard for human life and human dignity than that possessed by other nations such as Canada. It is also extremely unlikely that the United States can claim a greater regard for the safety of its children than they do either. No, it is more likely that the reasons for the disparities that exist are more likely to be simple political and financial greed. Of course, this would be rejected as nonsense by those who are responsible, but I see no lines to the microphones by this nations lawmakers offering explanations as to why the United States of America finds it necessary to keep more of its citizens behind bars than anyone else in the world.

      Something is quite wrong.

      The next article to appear here, “The Child Protection Act That Doesn’t” should serve to explain part of it, as should my upcoming series on “America’s Culture Of Incarceration”.

      I thank you for your time, and may God bless you and your families.