Thursday, April 5, 2012

New state law halts further child-pornography victimization

Consider, if you will, today's conundrum:

How could it be that our judicial process would actually sanction and contribute to the further production and distribution of child-pornography? 

We'll tell you how: A Washington State Supreme Court ruling five years ago (the oft-discussed Washington v. Boyd decision) required that the defense in a child-pornography case must be allowed access to the pertinent photographs depicting children in sexually explicit conduct.
Rep. Connie Ladenburg

So in this year's legislative session, state Rep. Connie Ladenburg advanced and won support for a measure stopping this further victimization of youngsters whose lives have already been so terribly brutalized.

The successful legislation, House Bill 2177, has indeed been signed into Washington law. Ladenburg's bill bars the copying or creation of additional child pornography during the discovery process in such a trial. Sometimes during this discovery process, as directed in the state high court's ruling, the court is ordered to copy child pornography and even make more copies of it. And that, Mr. or Ms. Concerned Blogster, certainly isn't something done with any other illegal contraband.

"Our state shouldn't sanction any further reproduction of this despicable material in court cases. It's that simple," said Ladenburg. "This new law is about protecting kids."

Specifically, the bipartisan legislation spells out that in child-pornography cases:

  • The material can be examined by the defense, but it must remain in the actual custody of law- enforcement people or court people.
  • A mirrored hard drive can be made available for expert-examination by the defense if the court determines that such examination is justified.
  • When it is no longer needed for the trial, the child pornography in question will be destroyed.

"As a parent of five children and grandparent of 10, my heart goes out to children who have been victims of child pornography. It is one of the worst crimes that can be committed against children, and it has lasting, devastating effects," Ladenburg stated. "Having any of these terrible pictures copied yet again, and viewed by anyone yet again, is unacceptable. We cannot let children be harmed any more than they already have been. This bill protects children from further victimization in child-pornography cases."

"Child pornography is contraband, just like illegal drugs, and we should treat it like contraband,” said Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist. “We don't duplicate and distribute illegal drugs for trial, and prosecutors shouldn't be required to duplicate and distribute child pornography for trial. This bill will stop this offensive practice."