April 29, 2003

Possession of downloaded child porn is stiff sentence in Johnson County, Texas

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia tipped the Internet Bureau of Greg Abbott's Texas Attorney General's office that a third party had reported a person suspected to be in possession of child pornography. That person is former Tarrant County Community College police officer, Ernest Dwaine Brown, 46. Based on the tip they had received, the Internet Bureau obtained a search warrant and discovered child porn on Mr. Brown's computer. More items were found on a CD, which constitutes promotion under the Texas statute. Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hannah, assisted by Assistant Attorney General Maya Guerra-Gamble prosecuted Mr. Brown on 10 counts of possession and three counts of promotion of child pornography. In a deal worked out between the prosecution and the defendant, Mr. Brown agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of 14 years. He had no prior criminal record. Pronouncing that sex crimes are not tolerated in Johnson County, DA Hanna said, "This shows how seriously we take these offenses in this county."

When I was first told about this case, it was reported as if the Internet Bureau and other agencies were monitoing Internet activity in an effort to locate and curb traffic in child pornography. After having read ths story, it appears that it was just another case of someone informing on someone else. Despite my feelings about governmental intrusion into the private sector of people's lives, I have also indicated that I supportive of all governmental action to protect the health and welfare of children. While the mere possession of and trading of child porn does not directly affect the lives of children, it is one of those cause and effect situations, similar to what I discussed with regard to the War on Drugs being mostly targeted toward stopping the flow of drugs by jailing the users and drying up the demand for drugs. If people demand something, and are willing to pay enough for it, someone else will provide it. In this scenario, the only way to provide the product is to injure the health and welfare of children, somewhere somehow. As I see it, the person's right to posess the material does not override any child's right to have a happy, secure childhood. 14 years does seem a little steep, but I am pretty sure, having personal knowledge of what kind of verdicts Johnson County juries handed down in the past, that Mr. Brown was wise to take that deal.

Posted by Tiger at April 29, 2003 01:58 PM