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Accessing and distributing child pornography is an emerging problem. This paper aims to examine the judicial sentencing decisions of child pornography cases and whether…
Accessing and distributing child pornography is an emerging problem. This paper aims to examine the judicial sentencing decisions of child pornography cases and whether they differ from decisions of child molestation cases.
Using a legal database of Canadian court judgments, the study examined sentencing decisions of 50 child pornography and 50 child molestation cases, identifying variables that were present in the judges' reasons for their decision.
The results revealed a disparity in sentencing that favours incarceration rather than community sentences for child molesters over child pornography cases. Despite what appears to be lighter sentences for child pornography offenders, judges were more likely to sanction treatment and recommend restrictions in cases of child pornography than child molestation. In light of the absence of literature exploring sentencing disparity among child sexual offences, further directions and suggestions for practice are discussed.
The examination of the disparity of sentencing decisions for child molesters and child pornography offenders and the identified variables that may contribute to these decisions suggests that the judiciary views child pornography and child molestation offenders differently and are more punitive toward contact offenders. Such disparity has implications for the criminal justice system.
This study offers the first exploration of sentencing disparity and decisions on child pornography and child molestation cases in Canada.