U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, April 30, 1996
Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Information Specialist
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 30, 1996) -- The United States Sentencing Commission today sent to Congress two amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines that will significantly increase the penalties for individuals convicted of certain child sex offenses. The amendments respond to congressional directives in the Sex Crimes Against Children Prevention Act of 1995 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
By promulgating the first amendment, the Commission increased sentences for offenses involving the sexual exploitation of minors and for offenses that use a computer to possess child pornography or to advertise or transmit images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The amendment also increases penalties if a computer was used to solicit participation in sexually explicit conduct with a minor.
The Commission's second amendment enhances the penalties for offenses involving transporting or enticing a minor for purposes of prostitution or prohibited sexual conduct. The amendment also incorporates into the guidelines a new offense created by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That offense makes it unlawful, in interstate or foreign commerce, to knowingly entice an individual under the age or 18 years to engage in prostitution or other prohibited sexual conduct.
The amendments will automatically become effective on November 1, 1996, after a 180-day period of congressional review, unless Congress enacts legislation to the contrary.
These amendments come in the midst of the Sentencing Commission's informal hiatus on guideline amendments during which the Commission is concentrating its efforts on: (1) a comprehensive assessment of the guidelines to ensure that they are meeting congressional objectives outlined in the Sentencing Reform Act and other legislation, and (2) a guideline simplification project which examines all aspects of the current system in an effort to ensure that the guidelines are achieving fairness in the least complex manner possible.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the Judicial Branch of the federal government, was organized in late 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines, which went into effect November 1, 1987, structure the courts' sentencing discretion to ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive a similar sentence. Since nationwide implementation in January 1989, federal judges have sentenced nearly 250,000 defendants under the guidelines.