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Assessing Current Restitution Law to Effectively Serve Victims in Child Abuse Imagery Cases

NCJ Number
National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, Update Volume: 22 Issue: 10 Dated: 2011 Pages: 1-8
Angela Downes; Meg Garvin; Wanda Lucibello; Alison Wilkinson; Terry Campos; Paul Cassell
Date Published
8 pages
This article examines whether current restitution laws effectively cover victims in child abuse imagery cases.
Current laws in the United States recognize that victims of crimes should be awarded restitution to make them whole and aid in their recovery. This same recognition however, has not been given to victims in child abuse imagery cases. This lack of recognition is due primarily to the varied legal interpretations of the statute that governs restitution laws. This article presents a brief review of the scope of the definition of victim for restitution purposes under the governing statute, and notes that under the statute, children depicted in child abuse images qualify as victims and are entitled to mandatory full restitution from their offenders, including those who possess and view their abuse. The article next identifies key issues that have resulted in confusion regarding interpretation of the statute: whether victims of child abuse imagery are due restitution in simple cases of possession, and whether Congress' omission of language from one section of the statute to another is intentional. This confusion in interpretation of the statute has resulted in victims of child abuse imagery receiving varied levels, or even no restitution. Practices that can be employed to ensure full restitution for victims are discussed. 39 notes


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