The Sarasota Sheriff’s office and the Sarasota State Attorney’s office have embarked on a zero tolerance crusade to apprehend and imprison for life anybody who looks and kiddie porn.
In Sarasota and Manatee County, the State Attorney is manipulating the sentencing guidelines by filing 40 second degree felonies in almost every child pornography case. The Courts, so far are going along with it, refusing to rectify this abuse of power by the prosecutor. People are getting 30 to 50 year sentences for simply looking at a video on the Internet. Is Sarasota county, a defendant will get more time for looking at a picture than actually committing a contact offense on a minor. The State attorney here will hit you with more time for child porn than homicide.
With a click of a mouse, a person can down load, sometimes accidently, dozens of videos or pictures in a matter of seconds. Many times the person has no idea what has come into his computer. In a micro second, the way the State interprets the law, a person can in their view, commit dozens of second degree felonies scoring them for life in prison. The State’s crusade is a misguided and mean spirited perversion of the law. What they do not realize is that most of the people who look at child porn do so because in their youth, they were victims of sexual abuse. They view the videos not through the eyes of some monster that preys on kids, but are reliving events from their childhood past. Viewing child pornography is an illness. All of this looks good and makes good press when the State attorney comes up for reelection but the reality is that is working a terribly unfair and terrible hardship on men who in their past were victims themselves.
The sad result is that the courts so far feel constrained to allow the State to manipulate the sentencing process, under the theory that their hands are tied, and they cannot vary from what is “guideline”.
It is a sad day when the prosecution controls the sentencing process and for all practical purposes the judicial discretion to impose a “fair and just” sentence is subverted.
The prosecutors have a terribly misguided belief that if a person looks at a video, they will go on to commit a crime on a child. All of the research shows just the opposite. I try to educate the public and warn men to never, no never, look at any video or still pic that can even remotely be a minor. No one should ever use a peer to peer file sharing program like Bit Torrent or Shareza for anything.
Some people accidently come across child porn while viewing adult porn. They mistakenly think that when they hit “delete”, it is deleted from their computer. It is not. The State’s forensic experts can “carve” and download even “deleted” images. The simple answer is, never, no never look at child porn, even out of curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat.
In Sarasota, curiosity can land you in prison for life.
The State’s crusade is doing more harm than good. They simply do not understand why some men go on to look at this stuff. The answer is treatment, not life in prison