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Knowing the risk, they'll still jump in with both feet and everything else.It's just something that overwhelms them and compels them to do this, and they will continue to do it." Until they get caught, that is, with computer trails a mile long. Ask attorneys who routinely defend these cases, and you'll get a different story regarding the increase in the prosecutions.But there's a story in that, too: So thick is our justifiable repulsion with this shadow world, so zealous are our ambitions to stamp it out, that even reporting on the issue seems to be prodding the beast.Yet amid this zeal are critics who claim government overreach—and they're not just defense attorneys or academics.In other words, tough sentences don't seem to be solving the problem. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reports similar numbers. "Part of the reason for the increase," says Daniel Barry, a cyber-crimes detective with the Tucson Police Department, "is that we've received new training on the tools we can use to find people who are exploiting minors using the Internet.The FBI reports well more than 10,000 child-porn arrests since 1996, and considers it the fastest-growing category of crime. Based on that training, we've been able to make a lot more cases, and that's why we're bringing a lot more forward. Matthews had already dispatched other such images into the Web's darkest corners. 19, 1996, Lawrence Matthews sent across the Internet a picture of a little girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, engaged in a vulgar sex act.
Responding to an increase in child-porn prosecutions, Congress mandated minimum federal sentences of five years for those convicted of receiving child pornography, with the average prison term jumping from just 21 months in 1997 to 91 months a decade later. Department of Justice, child-porn prosecutions have jumped 40 percent since 2006, resulting in more than 2,000 cases each year. Ask law enforcement, and they'll point to increased investigative resources, greater search-and-seizure powers, and ever-more sophisticated investigative techniques.
"The study was flawed, other experts told me, in that the people being questioned were obviously inmates in a sex-offender-treatment program, and were being rewarded for making up actual acts.
They were also being punished for being in denial if they didn't come up with alleged hands-on (molestation) activity earlier in their youth.
They do their best to stop child-pornography purveyors and collectors, who keep breaking the law despite a growing risk of arrest, says Pesqueira.
"The common theme with these guys is that it's an obsession, and they don't stop.