Bush Signs Child Predator Law

Date: 2006-07-27
Source: cbsnews.com

Convicted Molesters Must Be Listed In National Internet Database

Jennifer Hoar

(AP) President Bush, joined by "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh, signed a new law Thursday that requires convicted child molesters to be listed on a national Internet database and face a felony charge for failing to update their whereabouts.

"Our nation grieves with every family that's suffered the unbearable pain of a child whose been abducted or abused," Mr. Bush said in a bill-signing ceremony in the Rose Garden. "This law takes an important step forward in this country's efforts to protect those who cannot protect themselves."

The measure was named for Walsh's 6-year-old son, Adam, who was abducted exactly 25 years ago Thursday, and subsequently murdered.

It aims to help police find more than 100,000 sex offenders by creating the first national online listing available to the public and searchable by ZIP code. It also called for harsh federal punishment for sexually assaulting children, including the possibility of the death penalty when a victim is murdered.

"Today is truly a family day for us," Walsh's wife, Reve, told reporters outside the West Wing following the event. "Adam's presence is felt here with us today. This is all about children. It tells children in our country that they are precious and are cared about — even though they don't have any money, or vote or lobby — that we will take care of them."

Bush said the new law will help prevent child abuse by creating the national child abuse registry, and requiring investigators to do background checks on adoptive and foster parents before they are approved to take custody of a child. Giving child protective services professionals in all 50 states access to this information will improve their ability to investigate their child abuse cases, he said.

"These improvements will help prevent sex offenders from evading detection by moving from one state to the next," Mr. Bush said.

Child advocates have called the bill the most sweeping sex offender legislation to target pedophiles in years. It would:

# Establish a comprehensive federal DNA database of material collected from convicted molesters, and set procedures for the routine DNA collection and comparison to the database when someone has been convicted of such an offense.

# Provide federal funding for states to track pedophiles using global positioning devices.

# Allow victims of child abuse to sue their molesters.

The law imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years for raping a child; a mandatory 10-year penalty for sex trafficking offenses involving children and for coercing child prostitution; and increases minimum sentences for molesters who travel between states.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said the measure the president signed into law closes loopholes in current child Internet pornography laws. The senator and co-sponsor, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., pushed to include what they dubbed "Masha's Law" into the legislation Bush signed.

Now 13, Masha Allen was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age 5 by a man who sexually abused her. Her abuser was convicted, yet her images on the Internet are being downloaded around the world.

"It's an absolute outrage that the penalty for downloading songs illegally off the Internet was three times the penalty for downloading disgusting images of children," Kerry said. "We need to do everything we can to end the disgrace of child pornography. This is a start."

The new law dramatically increases penalties for anyone who downloads child pornography off the Internet, raising the civil penalties from $50,000 to $150,000. It will also change existing law to allow victims ages 18 or older to recover damages from those who downloaded images of them taken while they were children.

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The story of Masha Allen is

.The story of Masha Allen is indeed a very sad one, and people who treat children in this way do need to be punished, but the knee-jerk laws brought in after high profile cases like this are purely done to garner votes, and not to seriously protect children. More harm has been done in the US with stricter sex offender laws, than with any other law against any criminal subset. If the laws become too strict, the serious ones will just drop off the grid and stay there. There also appears to be no consideration for those with far lesser crimes, such as the 18 year old who sleeps with his 17 year old girlfriend, and is then labelled a child abuser for the rest of his miserable life. If I am mistaken, and there is consideration in the legislation for levels of seriousness (the example I quoted should not even be a crime imo), then I retract part of my comment, but the essence still stands. Children must be protected, but not at all costs. Laws made emotively, with input from bitter victims, are not the way to do it; common sense and scientifically-backed evidence must be injected into the creation process for any law to be effective.

As an aside, but a pretty damn big one, Kerry's quote at the end is incredibly ignorant. Who seriously cares about civil litigation, when people like Masha's adoptive father get 30+ years in prison? Is a sentence akin to one for murder not enough? Then you get those who are caught for merely downloading/possession of these images. I've seen people in the US get bigger sentences for downloading than actual molestation, and sometimes more than murderers! Her quote also carries another very misleading statement on penalties. Spending 10, 20, 30 years in prison for masturbating to a picture, no matter its legality, is a damn sight harsher than the monetary penalty for downloading songs illegally. Has Kerry spent even one month in prison? I am reliably informed by many of the former sex offenders I have worked with, that prison is the worst thing that can happen to someone, as there are many other punishments that naturally come with it. After spending that long in prison, you've most likely lost everything anyway, so no matter how much an abused person can sue for, it makes no difference to either the abuser or the viewer.

litigation and the cost of child porn

I agree in the sense that life in prison IS enough for most former sex offenders, making civil litigation a moot point in terms of punishment, but we have to remember, when it comes to child porn, there is a matter of restitution, too.  These films and images, requiring the use (and abuse) of children are circulating on the internet for years.  They don't make themselves, they don't quickly go away, and more to the point,  the films and images exploiting children aren't free.  In other words, many of the viewers turn out to be producers and distributors, too... and that translates into cash for those choosing to profit from pedophilia.

So as frivolous, unfair, and useless these civil lawsuits may seem, maybe, the individual who is downloading, (and perhaps producing and/or distributing) child-porn is going to re-think what's really going on once the collected image is off-screen.  After all, a $50-150K loss, on top of legal fees, is a bit of a hit.... but a necessary hit, as I will explain. 

We need to look at these fines more realistically.

If nothing else, these fines may ensure the young "stars" forced into the adult sex scene will receive some financial compensation for the sexual abuse and trauma they endured for the paying adult viewer.   (More than likely these kids will need that money for extensive long-term therapy.)  Remember, these are children, and they have been used and exploited, by adults, all for someone's sexual pleasure.  What part of that is not disturbing?

Furthermore, there are serious risks and dangers associated with child porn.  According to The Problem of Internet Child Pornography , such problems include:

•violence and fatalities

•neglect

•abandonment

•exposure to hazardous materials (e.g., clandestine drug labs)

•trafficking of children and babies and illegal adoption agencies

•juvenile runaways.

I don't expect a "child-lover" to appreciate these dangers mid-download.  However, maybe, just maybe, with forced fines, each person who downloads child porn will think about the financial responsibility they will have to pay for showing a strong interest in child-pornography and pedophilia.  It's not a bad deterrent and the fine is definitely something to think about when alone and on the computer...

As far as John Kerry's thoughts, opinions, and experiences in relation to prisons and specific prison populations, you might want to research, yourself:  http://kerry.senate.gov/ 

Children must be protected,

Children must be protected, but not at all costs.

Alright, at what cost to whom, then?

Laws made emotively, with input from bitter victims, are not the way to do it; common sense and scientifically-backed evidence must be injected into the creation process for any law to be effective.

Oh lord, lol.

In my view, common sense, so-called, is part of the problem. Common sense and conventional wisdom inform us that bitter victims

a) cannot be trusted,

b) need third-party guidance from others in what's good for them because

c) they are blinded by their own world of hurt, and

d) might be just makin' it all up, anyway.

I'm not sure what scientifically-based evidence you mean, though. Do you have some links to examples you feel would serve the issue better?

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