Minnesota Gets Tough on Child Porn

Minnesota Gets Tough on Child Porn
Kat Khan
ST. PAUL, Minn. – In adopting new sentences for sex crimes Thursday, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission has determined that possessing or selling child pornography should be punished more severely than earlier proposed.

The commission approved longer sentences for child pornography crimes after hearing testimony last week from a Ramsey County prosecutor who said child pornography material is rapidly reproducing on the Internet.

"This is the crime that just keeps on giving," Isanti County Attorney Jeffrey Edblad, who serves on the sentencing commission, said. "Those pictures could be cropping up multiple times for years on end. It's a horrific, horrific situation for the victims."

Under the new proposal, distributing child pornography would carry a minimum prison sentence of two years and up to almost 12 years for repeat offenders and sexual predators. First-time possession offenders would receive a 15-month sentence, but that could increase to as many as seven years for chronic offenders.

Commission members who voted against longer sentences said the state needs more data before amending the rules.

Previously, during a five-year period from 2000 to 2004, 15 people were convicted of child porn distribution and 135 people were found guilty of child porn possession, though the penalties typically have been lighter than those approved this week.

Minnesota’s move to create stronger child porn punishments is part of new sentencing guidelines that toughen punishments for sex offenses. However, the most serious sex crimes will still carry life sentences under the proposed state law.

Pending the Legislature’s approval, the new guidelines will become law on Aug. 1.