Child Pornography Sentence ‘Shockingly High’

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By Jordan S. Rubin

A federal district court “went far overboard” when it sentenced a man convicted of possessing and transporting child pornography because he was punished more severely than child rapists, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held April 17 ( United States v. Jenkins , 2017 BL 124267, 2d Cir., No. 14-4295-cr, 4/17/17 ).

Lower courts need to be mindful of sentencing disparities in child pornography cases, the court stressed.

Joseph Jenkins was sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison followed by 25 years of supervised release for bringing thousands of images and videos of child pornography across the New York State border into Canada on his way to a family vacation in 2009.

Jenkins’s “shockingly high” sentence, which would have released him from prison at age 63 and from supervised release at age 88, was “substantively unreasonable,” meaning that it “cannot be located within the range of permissible decisions,” the court held in an opinion by Judge Barrington D. Parker.

The lower court failed to differentiate between “possession-only” offenses like Jenkins’s and “contact” offenses that involve unlawful physical contact with minors, Parker wrote. Jenkins was also transporting his collection “for his own personal use,” rather than for sale or distribution to others.

The court upheld Jenkins’s convictions on appeal, but sent his case back to the lower court for resentencing in line with other sentences previously imposed in the Second Circuit.

Judge Dennis Jacobs was also on the panel.

Judge Amalya Kearse issued a partial dissent. She disagreed that Jenkins’s sentence was substantively unreasonable, noting that Jenkins’s sentence was within the range of permissible sentences under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Jenkins also failed to take responsibility for his actions, she emphasized.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jordan S. Rubin in Washington at jrubin@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bna.com

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