In Washington as in life, certain roads may be paved with good intentions, but critics of a purportedly well-meaning new bill warn it would lead to major suffering for the very people it’s meant to protect: U.S. teenagers.
Last week, the House of Representatives approved H.R.1761, also known as the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017,” which builds on current law that makes teen-to-teen sexting a crime. Reportedly aimed at closing “loopholes” in child pornography legislation, the bill received support from all but two Republican congressmen, Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who voted against the bill along with 53 democrats.
Under the present law, any individual who violates its terms or conspires to do “shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 15 years nor more than 30 years.” Second-time offenders, meanwhile, or those that have previously been convicted of related or (in some cases) arguably unrelated offenses under federal and/or military rules, would be fined and imprisoned “for not less than 25 years nor more than 50 years” under the law. Third-time offenders would be fined and imprisoned for “not less than 35 years nor more than life.”