TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill today strengthening New Jersey’s child pornography laws, by imposing a minimum mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of distributing 25 or more illegal images.
First-time offenders will serve at least five years; second-time offenders will face up to ten years.
“I applaud tougher sentencing, no early release and clearer legislation that tightens loopholes utilized by offenders,” said Tim Henning, executive director for the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection. “Gov. Christie's newly passed bill is clearly a step in the right direction.”
When Christie served as the state’s U.S. attorney from 2002-2008, his office was in charge of prosecuting federal child pornography cases. He said in a statement that he was shocked to see how much laxer states laws were in comparison to their federal equivalents.
“New Jersey's laws required change in order to close the gap between Federal and state law,” Henning told XBIZ. “Legislative bodies are continually struggling to keep pace with online technologies and digital media ecosystems, which are abused by criminals including those that sexually abuse innocent children.”
The measure, proposed by Sen. Kevin O’Toole in January, passed both houses of the state Legislature with no opposition.
The bill will also require convicted child pornographers to serve at least 85 percent of their prison term and makes it a first-degree crime for non-parents and guardians to engage a child in pornography. It is already first-degree for parents.
"This act will flat out prevent and deter child pornography in New Jersey, where the prior laws did hardly anything to stop the most disturbing predators from destroying the lives of children while profiting off of their sick fixes," O’Toole said.