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Judicial Challenges to Mandatory Minimum Sentences  

Author:  Mary Graw  Leary.

Source: Volume 13, Number 01, December/January 2012 , pp.3-7(5)

Sex Offender Law Report

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Over the past decade, federal sentencing issues concerning child pornography have produced considerable legal debate, much of it focused on the application of federal sentencing guidelines as set forth by the United States Sentencing Commission. Many judges have opined that the factors used to calculate the adjusted offense level for some child pornography offenses may be out of date, impracticable, and/or in conflict with 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), which requires, among other things, “just punishments.” Particular concerns have been expressed that strict application of the sentencing guidelines can produce results in which possessors of child pornography (i.e., those who commit less serious child pornography offenses as compared to producers or distributors) may be sentenced near the statutory maximum. This has caused some judges to inquire into the rationality of guidelines, which they argue place even the less culpable offenders at the level of punishment reserved for the most serious of offenders.


Affiliations:  1: The Catholic University School of America.

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