Criminogenic risk of child pornography consumers

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The criminogenic risk of child pornography consumers is one argument cited for why the liberty of those caught in possession of child pornography should be curtailed through lengthy prison sentences and restrictive conditions of supervised release. The Butner studies are sometimes used as empirical support for this argument.

A primary justification for strict sentencing of child pornography offenders is the assertion, or at least the insinuation, that possession of child pornography will lead to actual child molestation. One critical question, therefore, is to what extent the possession and viewing of child pornography, by a defendant with no prior history of sexual offense, has a causal connection to the likelihood of future contact offenses against children. In other words, how likely is it that a possessor of child pornography will "cross over" to contact offenses? Numerous recent studies have assessed the question and most have found that "there is no empirical support for a direct causal link between internet sex offending and the commission of contact offenses."[1]

References

  1. L. Webb et al., Characteristics of Internet Child Pornography Offenders: A Comparison with Child Molesters, 19 Sexual Abuse: J. Res. & Treatment 449, 451 (2007).