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Child Porn Prevention Act Headed to Gov. Christie

A comprehensive, bipartisan child pornography prevention act has been approved today by the full State Senate. It has already passed the full Assembly so it is now headed Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

“This is the most significant bill passed by the New Jersey legislature in decades, and it accomplishes what the people put us here to do first and foremost: everything possible protect children and families,” says GOP Sen. Kevin O’Toole, the bill’s prime sponsor. “This empowers law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to keep predators away from our children.”

The legislation is sponsored on the Democratic side of the aisle Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Donald Norcross.

It allows law enforcement and prosecutors to keep child predators behind bars without parole or early release; allows them to charge and convict per offense; and makes it easier for them to charge and convict for possession and distribution by establishing the use of child pornography file-sharing programs as a second-degree crime.

“There is no greater, more important task than protecting the safety and well-being of our children,” says Sweeney. “By increasing and revising the penalties for those who would seek to do physical and mental harm to kids, we are providing enhanced protections for children.”

The Child Pornography Prevention Act:

  • Broadens the coverage of child pornography laws to cover victims younger than 18 years of age; current law only covers those younger than 16 years of age.
  • Upgrades causing a child to engage in pornography from a second-degree crime to a first-degree crime.
  • Adds the crime of causing or engaging child pornography to the “No Early Release Act,” meaning a convict would have to serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence to be eligible for release.
  • Imposes a mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of distributing at least 25 images of child pornography; for a second or subsequent offense, it establishes an extended prison term (associated with first-degree penalties) with no chance of parole.
  • Upgrades the crime of possession to a third-degree crime, from a fourth-degree crime, and imposes a mandatory prison sentence; for a second or subsequent offense, it establishes an extended prison term (associated with second-degree penalties) with no chance of parole.
  • Makes peer-to-peer file sharing a distribution crime, as opposed to possession.
  • Imposes parole supervision for life (under “Megan’s Law”) for those convicted of production and distribution of child pornography, forces them to disclose any online accounts and passwords and
  • Disallows a conviction for possessing child pornography from being expunged from an offender’s record, making all child pornography crimes are permanently on offenders’ records.

“These kinds of crimes, which are committed against children, are the most horrific in society,” says Norcross. “We have to ensure that our state laws provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to prosecute the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes against minors and to bring them to justice.”

The measure was initiated by O’Toole in 2011 and introduced in January.

“This Act is a national model that will kill that disgraceful industry in New Jersey,” says O’Toole.

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