Douglas A. Berman, 

October 30, 2009

The US Sentencing Commission today posted here an important new report on the hottest topic in federal sentencing right now.  The new report is titled simply "The History of the Child Pornography Guidelines," and it runs over 50 pages.  The report's concluding summary provides an effective overview of what this document says and does:

This report provides a history of the child pornography guidelines, which were initially promulgated in 1987 and substantively revised nine times in the following 22 years.  The most recent guideline revision is pending before Congress and, absent congressional action, will become effective on November 1, 2009.  Congress has demonstrated its continued interest in deterring and punishing child pornography offenses, prompting the Commission to respond to multiple public laws that created new child pornography offenses, increased criminal penalties, directly (and uniquely) amended the child pornography guidelines, and required the Commission to consider offender and offense characteristics for the child pornography guidelines.
Sentencing courts have also expressed comment on the perceived severity of the child pornography guidelines through increased below-guidelines variance and downward departure rates.  Consistent with the Commission’s duties to review and revise the guidelines, and the Supreme Court’s direction, the Commission has established a review of the child pornography guidelines as a priority for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2010. This report is the first step in the Commission’s work on this priority.

This looks like a must-read for any and everyone who has been following the craziness surrounding federal child porn sentencing over the last few years.

Some related recent federal child porn prosecution and sentencing posts:

October 30, 2009 | Permalink