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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Implications of Recidivism Research and Clinical Experience For Assessing and Treating Federal Child Pornography Offenders: Richard Wollert, Ph.D.


A Quiet but Growing Judicial Rebellion Against Harsh Sentences For Child Pornography Offenses — Should the Laws Be Changed? By Sen. Arlen Specter and Linda Dale Hoffa


Another Child abuse database containing millions of images to launch

Child abuse database containing millions of images to launch By Angus Crawford BBC News

Data taken from tens of millions of child abuse photos and videos will shortly be used as part of a new police system to aid investigations into suspected paedophiles across the UK.

The project, called the Child Abuse Image Database (Caid), will be launched by the Prime Minister at an internet safety event 

The obscene material was seized during previous operations.on Thursday 11 December.

But one expert warned its success depended on it being properly staffed.Image Database

“Start Quote It's horrendous at times, clicking through image after image”End Quote Tom Simmons Former child protection officer

BBC News was given exclusive access to the database while it was under development.

It is intended to avoid offices duplicating each others' efforts when cataloguing identical copied images.

It was created by a team of coders working in a grey, concrete office block in central Gothenburg, Sweden.

They suggested the project would transform the way child abuse investigations were carried out in the UK.
Caid will try to match newly seized images to previously categorised examples

"We're looking at 70, 80, up to 90% work load reduction," said Johann Hofmann, law enforcement liaison officer for Netclean, one of the companies involved.

"We're seeing investigations being reduced from months to days."

Two other tech firms - Hubstream and L-3 ASA - have also been involved in the effort, which is backed by a two-year, £720,000 contract. Unidentified victims

Detectives in the UK often seize computers, mobile devices or USB memory sticks with hundreds of thousands of images on them.
Caid will help automate the categorisation of child abuse imagery

At present, they have to go through the images manually one by one to categorise their severity and start a prosecution.

It can mean some material is never analysed, meaning new victims are not identified and cannot be rescued.

Recently, the children's charity NSPCC said it was gravely concerned about a lack of police forensic experts. It claimed that forces were seizing hundreds of computers each year, but didn't have the staff to examine all of them.

Mr Hofmann said the software would help automate more of the process.

"We want investigators to spend more time looking at the new material, instead of looking at the same images over and over again," he explained.

"Because we know that these images are typically traded and the same images appear in investigation after investigation."Digital finger print

To help compare the images, Caid makes use of a unique signature assigned to each one - known as a hash value - the equivalent of a "digital fingerprint".

Detectives will be able to plug seized hard drives into the system so they can be scanned and their contents similarly encoded to see if the resulting signatures match.

“Start QuoteWe have increased numbers of offenders... how the heck are we going to get sufficient officers?”End Quote Sharon Girling OBE Child protection specialist

Other techniques, including object matching and visual similarity analysis, are also employed.

The system should be able to identify known images, classify the content, and flag up those never seen before within minutes.

In a demonstration seen by the BBC, a green flag was triggered by innocent images, while known images of abuse were flagged red.

Caid will also be able to use GPS data from photographs to pinpoint where they were taken.

"Local investigators can spend more time being more victim centred, trying to find new victims," said Mr Hofmann.

Detectives will also be able to upload new, unfamiliar images of child abuse to a central computer server so that colleagues elsewhere in the UK can help try and identify those involved.

Tom Simmons, a former senior child protection officer who also worked at the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), said the initiative should lessen pressure on officers by reducing the amount of material they have to see.
Caid can identify GPS data linked to stored photos and videos to help indicate where they were made

"It's horrendous at times, clicking through image after image," he said.

He says a lack of resources, the harrowing nature of the material, and the scale of the problem can cause burn out.

"There could be hundreds of thousands, even millions of images on that hard drive that the officer may have to go through," he said.

"You could be seeing children effectively being tortured - that does become very difficult sometimes to get those images out of your head."'Fizzle out' risk

But some experts in the field have their doubts about Caid's potential.

A similar system, called Childbase, was launched in 2003 by Ceop and the Home Office.

It contained seven million images and used ground-breaking facial-recognition software.

It was rolled out to police forces across the UK, but in 2011 it was switched off.

Sharon Girling received an OBE for her work on the scheme. She believes it failed because of a lack of trained officers.
Ms Girling warns that Caid could be short-lived unless it is properly resourced

"We have increased numbers of offenders since 2011. How the heck are we going to get sufficient officers today?"

She fears that Caid may "fizzle out" unless it is properly resourced.

"Childbase ceased to exist because of a lack of resources, because there weren't sufficient officers."

"I can only see that happening again with Caid, as much as I don't want that to happen, I fear that it may well do".

Related Notes

Child-porn sentencing questioned

Child-porn sentencing questioned

Are federal sentencing guidelines for possessing child pornography too harsh  ?

Calling the guidelines “draconian , ” U . S . District Judge James L . Graham has become increasingly vocal in his criticism from the federal bench in Columbus .

Possessing child· porn is vastly different from distributing or producing it , Graham said in an interview last week . “The purveyors or producers of these images deserve the most severe punishment we can give them . My concern is the people who up possessing it . ”

Richard Bistline , a Knox County , is to in federal court on Wednesday to sentenced for the third time for child-porn possession . His case thrust Graham into the spotlight in 2010 after the judge sentenced Bistline , of Mount Vernon , to one day in prison ,

30 days of home· confinement and 10 years of probation . The recommended sentence under federal guidelines was five to six years .

Assistant U . S . Attorney Deborah A . Solove appealed Graham’s sentence to the 6 th U . S . Circuit Court of Appeals , which ruled that the penalty· did not reflect the seriousness of the offense . The appeals court ordered Graham to resentence the defendant .

But a defiant Graham again sentenced Bistline to a single day in prison , although he increased the home confinement to three years . Solove again appealed , and the 6 th Circuit court again ruled that Graham’s sentence was too lenient . The court removed Graham from the case .

Judge George . Smith is to sentence Bistline on Wednesday .

Before deciding on a sentence , judges by must take into account sentencing guidelines , which essentially are numbers tied to the aspects of a crime . Each crime has a base number — 18 is the number for simple possession of child pornography — and points are added based on the details of the defendant’s case .

If a defendant uses a computer to access child pornography , for example , points are added to the base number .

The guidelines list a prison-sentence range based on the base number and the additional points . Judges can sentence outside the guidelines but must explain why .

Graham says the guidelines for child-porn possession are outdated . Adding points for looking at child porn on a computer is unjustified , he said , because nearly all of it is accessed that . Adding points for possession of numerous images is unjustified because “current technology produces numerous images with one stroke or mouse click , ” he said .

Assistant U . S . attorneys who prosecute child-porn cases declined to comment on the sentencing guidelines . But they have argued in numerous cases over the years that the pornography would not produced if there were no market for it , so those who possess it are creating a market for the images .

Solove has pointed out in court documents that the guidelines leave room for lesser sentences. Among the mitigating circumstances: No hard-core pornography is involved; victims in the images are older teens or close in to the defendant; the child-porn collection is from one download; the defendant has developmental issues; or the collection of images is small .

In its second Bistline ruling , the appeals court wrote that possessing child porn “is not a crime of inadvertence , of pop-up screens and viruses that incriminate an innocent person . ” Possession becomes a crime “when a defendant knowingly acquires the images — in this case , affirmatively , deliberately and repeatedly , hundreds of times over , in a period exceeding a year . "

Graham isn’t alone in his contention that the guidelines are outdated .

A 2013 U . S . Sentencing Commission report on federal child-porn guidelines noted that many of the sentencing enhancements designed to further punish the worst possessors now apply to most offenders .

In 2010 , for example , 96 percent of such cases included the of a computer and involved images with prepubescent minors , the report says . Each triggers a two-point addition to the offense level used to calculate a guideline sentence .

“Most stakeholders in the federal criminal-justice system consider the nonproduction , child-pornography-sentencing scheme to seriously outmoded , ” the report says .

Steve Nolder , a lawyer who directed the federal public-defender offices in Columbus , Cincinnati and Dayton until last year , said the guidelines need to changed .

“They’re the direct result of the political winds blowing out of Congress , ” with legislators having increased the punishment for child-porn offenses within the guidelines in recent years , he said .

Nolder has represented numerous defendants charged with such offenses.

“It’s easy to vilify these people , ” he said . “Is prison necessary ? Maybe for some people . ”

But , he pointed out , a minimum prison sentence for someone convicted of possessing child pornography is not a mandate . The statutory penalty is zero to 10 years , he said , so some defendants should qualify for the lowest sentence — no prison time .

What everyone wants to know , he said , is whether those who view child pornography have a greater tendency to molest children .

“The psychology of that is in its infancy , but right now , the data says no , ” Nolder said .

Other who have pleaded guilty to one count of child-porn possession in federal court in Columbus , as Bistline did , have received multiple-year sentences . Among them: former special deputy sheriff Todd R . German of Union County , sentenced last year to four years; former Reynoldsburg teacher Matthew Fisher , sentenced in 2011 to three years; and former Columbus doctor Philip Nowicki , sentenced in 2011 to years .

Graham said most of the child-porn-possession defendants he sees have no previous criminal record and “are involved in viewing these images as a result of what appears to a form of addiction I think is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society , affecting people of all ages . ”

Just by being found guilty , he said , they face ruined lives , for both themselves and their families .

“They need to stop it , ” he said . “The who are doing this are going to caught . ”