News Release

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 14, 1996

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Information Specialist
(202) 273-4590


WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 14, 1996) -- The United States Sentencing Commission today voted to seek public comment on a series of proposed amendments that would raise the penalties for certain crimes involving child pornography. The amendment proposals respond to congressional directives in the Sex Crimes Against Children Prevention Act of 1995. The Act directs the Commission to increase sentences for specified child pornography offenses and for offenses that use a computer to advertise or transmit images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. It also directs the Commission to increase sentences for offenses involving the transportation of a minor for purposes of prostitution or prohibited sexual conduct.

The Commission is also required to examine and report to Congress on offenses involving child pornography and other sex offenses against children. At today's meeting, the Commission approved a detailed plan to conduct the necessary research. The plan includes a statistical analysis of 1994 and 1995 cases involving sexual crimes against children; a review of the language and structure of the current sentencing guidelines; and a review of studies of sex offender recidivism.

Also at the meeting, the Commission voted down a proposal to make retroactive its November 1, 1995, amendment that provides an additional two-level reduction for drug defendants meeting the criteria of the "safety valve" and whose offense level is 26 or greater. The "safety valve" was created by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which directed that lower-level defendants sentenced for certain drug offenses who meet specified criteria will not be subject to mandatory minimum penalties. Accordingly, only defendants sentenced after the guideline amendment's November 1 effective date who satisfy the safety valve requirements will be eligible for the reduced term of imprisonment.

Chairman Conaboy announced that the Commission's recently formed Judicial Advisory Group will hold its first meeting in early April. The Advisory Group, composed of judges from each judicial circuit and the Criminal Law Committee of the Judicial Conference, will serve as a sounding board for ideas and options that flow from the Commission's ongoing guideline simplification project. Judge Anthony J. Scirica of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is chairman of the group.

United States Sentencing Commission: