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Blurring Line Between Victim and Offender: Self-Produced Child Pornography and the Need for Sentencing Reform

NCJ Number
Ohio State Law Journal Volume: 73 Issue: 1 Dated: 2012 Pages: 141-176
David A. Bosak
Date Published
36 pages
This article examines the problem of self-produced child pornography and punishment for this crime under current U.S. sentencing guidelines.
Self-produced child pornography (SPCP) refers the creation of sexual images that minors create of themselves. Under current law, SPCP is covered under the same definitions as child pornography that is produced by third parties. As such, individuals charged with SPCP are governed by the same set of laws as third-party producers of child pornography, meaning they receive the same sentences as third-party producers. The author of this article argues that current U.S. sentencing guidelines used to punish third-party producers are in fact inappropriate for punishing minors engaged in SPCP. The article begins with a history of child pornography law, from how it evolved from original cases to cases in the present day. The following section examines current sentencing guidelines for child pornography offenses, and how these guidelines could be applied hypothetically in a SPCP case. The example demonstrates how current sentencing guidelines would result in the offender and the victim receiving jail terms for possession of child pornography, even if they are both minors. The next section of the article discusses whether or not current Federal sentencing scheme is effective and whether or not it meets the sentencing guideline's ultimate goals for dealing with the seriousness of child pornography, providing just punishment, and instilling respect for the law in offenders. The final section of the article examines the changes that need to be made to current sentencing guidelines as regards SPCP offenders. The author proposes a model statute with mandatory sentencing requirements that would successfully protect minors who engage in SPCP from long-term, life-destroying consequences.