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Hawley Goes Off on Biden SCOTUS Nominee for Sentencing Child Porn Offender to Just 3 Months, 'Apologizing' to Him

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Is three months in prison an appropriate sentence for someone who possessed sick images of children being sexually abused?

President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, apparently thought so.

That’s the sentence she handed down in a 2013 child pornography case despite sentencing guidelines calling for up to 10 years in prison.

The light sentence was the subject of the most intense back-and-forth of the second day of Jackson’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as Biden’s nominee was grilled by Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley over her sentence.

(Jackson’s sentencing habits in child pornography cases may be the most contentious issue with her nomination, but they’re far from the only one. Here at The Western Journal, we’ll be providing news and analysis on the hearings and the subsequent vote you won’t be reading in the mainstream media. You can help us bring America the truth by subscribing.)

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“I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it,” Hawley said during his questioning of Jackson, according to Politico. “We’re talking about 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 11-year-olds and 12-year-olds.”

In the case, United States v. Hawkins, 18-year-old Wesley Hawkins had possessed roughly two dozen images and videos of child sexual abuse. The prosecution had recommended at least two years in jail for Hawkins. Under the PROTECT Act of 2003, meanwhile, the recommendation was 97 to 121 months.

Not only is three months extraordinarily lenient given those numbers, but Hawley said Jackson told the defendant during sentencing that she didn’t think his crimes signaled “an especially heinous or egregious child pornography offense” and that she had “no reason to think you are a pedophile.”

“Then you apologized to him,” Hawley said. “And I just have to tell you, I can’t quite figure this out. You said to him, ‘This is a truly difficult situation. I appreciate that your family’s in the audience. I feel so sorry for them, and for you, and for the anguish this has caused all of you. I feel terrible about the collateral consequences of this conviction.’ And then you go on to say, ‘Sex offenders are truly shunned in our society.’

Should Jackson be confirmed?

“I’m just trying to figure out, judge, is he the victim here, or are the victims the victims?”

“You’re apologizing to him, you’re saying you’re sorry for the anguish this has caused him. … You say earlier in the case, you talk about how heinous these crimes are and you describe them, to your credit,” he continued.

“Senator, I, again, don’t have the entire record,” Jackson replied.

“I remember in that particular case, I considered it to be unusual, in part for the reasons that I described,” the nominee said. “I remember in that case that defense counsel was arguing for probation, in part, because he argued, that here we had a very young man, just graduated from high school, he presented all of his diplomas and certificates and the things that he had done.”

She added, “I sent this 18-year-old to three months in federal prison under circumstances that were presented in this case because I wanted him to understand that what he had done was harmful, that what he had done was unlawful, that what he had done violated the law and needed to be punished not only by prison but by the many other things that the law requires of a judge who is sentencing in this area.”

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However, as Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz pointed out during his testimony earlier in the day, Jackson had sentenced defendants in child pornography cases to an average of 47.2 percent less time than prosecutors asked for during her time on the federal bench.

“Let’s look at what the prosecutors are asking for, and I would note that this was in the District of Columbia, where prosecutors are far more liberal than many of the prosecutors in this country,” Cruz said, sitting in front of a dry erase board with child pornography cases listed.

“So in United States vs. Hess, there was a statutory minimum of 60 months and you imposed 60 months because you had no discretion,” he said. “In United States vs. Nickerson, there was a mutual agreement of the parties to 120 months and that’s what you imposed.”

Things were different in the child pornography cases where she had discretion.

“In every other case — United States vs. Chasin, the prosecutor asked for 78 to 97 months, you imposed 28 months,” the senator said.

That case was a 64 percent reduction over what the prosecution felt was fair. It wasn’t an outlier, with some cases seeing Jackson cutting the sentence over what the prosecution desired by over 80 percent.

“Every single case, 100 percent of them, when prosecutors came before you with child pornography cases, you sentenced the defenders to substantially below not just the guidelines, which are way higher, but what the prosecutor asked for on average of these cases, 47.2 percent less,” Cruz said.

“Do you believe the voice of the children is heard when 100 percent of the time you’re sentencing those in possession of child pornography to far below what the prosecutor is asking for?” he asked.

Jackson responded that she took “these cases very seriously as a mother, as someone who as a judge has to review the actual evidence in these cases and, based on Congress’ requirement, take into account not only the sentencing guidelines, not only the recommendations of the parties, but also things like the stories of the victims, also things like the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant.”

So apparently, 100 percent of the time, she found “the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant” warranted much lower sentences than the prosecutors in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — which, as you may have deduced, isn’t known as a hive of stringent law-and-order knuckle-rappers — had asked for.

What are the odds? I can tell you that they’re not good — particularly when Jackson is practically apologizing to an adult who was guilty of possessing child pornography.

Any Supreme Court justice needs to be able to stand up for those affected by crime. If she can’t stand up for the most vulnerable victims — children — that should raise some critical red flags.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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