Having determined that 10 years in federal prison is the absolute minimum acceptable penalty for a 22-year-old who supplies a joint to a 17-year-old, House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) figures steering that 17-year-old toward online porn is an offense at least as serious. Last month Sensenbrenner introduced the Children's Safety Act of 2005, which his committee is expected to mark up tomorrow. Among other things, the bill would increase the penalty for anyone who "knowingly uses a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing material that is harmful to minors." Under the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003, that offense is punishable by a fine, a sentence of up to four years, or both. Viewing the current penalty as plainly inadequate for the sort of public menace who would trick a teenager into looking at dirty pictures, Sensenbrenner wants it upped to a minimum of 10 years and a fine. Yet the ever-thoughtful Sensenbrenner sets a ceiling of 30 years, thereby leaving room for members of future Congresses to demonstrate their zeal for guarding children's safety and ending their exploitation by proposing a life sentence (to be followed a few years later by the death penalty) for the crime of calling a porn site cheaptermpapers.com.
[Thanks to Eric Sterling for the tip.]