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The Number of Men in Federal Prison for Viewing or Sharing Child Pornography Has Nearly Septupled Since 2004

The number of child pornography offenders in federal prison has nearly septupled since 2004, and most are serving mandatory sentences of five years or more, generally for crimes that did not involve assault or sexual abuse. In fiscal year 2016, for example, 1,565 people were sentenced for possessing, receiving, or distributing child pornography, but only 80 (5 percent) were also convicted of production or another form of sexual abuse. The average sentence was more than eight years.

Download the report: JacobSullum_Number-imprisoned-septupled


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  1. Dustin


  2. American Detained in America

    I can’t help but wonder how many of those were caught because the government illegally distributed child pornography by operating child porn websites.

    • Michael

      The feds stopped calling stuff like that entrapment decades ago. They now call it “affording someone an opportunity to commit a crime.” You know, like when an FBI agent affords homeless mentally ill men an opportunity to commit terrorist acts that they couldn’t do because, well, they are homeless and don’t have the financial means to commit such an act.

    • Dustin

      Not sure, but guessing an overwhelming majority considering that the number spiked so high since they started doing those entrapment stings. Betting a significant number also resulted from popups and those aggravating links that cover a whole page.

      Still find it rather ironic that they spend so much time, effort, and money to trap people viewing CP, but won’t lift one finger or spend one nickel or minute to do anything about CP production.

      • E

        Like drug abuse, it is easier, cheaper and looks better to the public to find and prosecute the offender rather than the producer. Realize that majority of this comes from the same foreign countries that we are banned from. Hell, they can’t even stop it!

    • JM

      If you want to know why this has happened, all you need to do is watch “13th” on Netflex. It really is all about money, corporate greed. There has been so much outrage and outcry for those in prison on drug charges and also so many of those are people of color, that they had to invent a way to keep the prisons full, after the drug reforms and after people of color started speaking out demanding change! What they (our government) came up with is genus, ideal. “it’s all about protecting the children” while most have never, ever hurt a child. What politician would dare speak out against these new laws?

      The government, movie producers and media sent out messages years back creating fear about people of color. We needed to fear them because they were criminals, bad people. Now, if you think about it, it’s all about sex and child predators. They created fear using some high profile cases and it just caught on like wild fire. I voted for Clinton back in the day, but he was responsible for the mass incarceration that we experience today. Mandatory minimums, three strikes, and that took away a judges ability to look at the mitigating circumstances and whole picture.

      It’s very difficult for families to fight back due to the stigma and embarrassment that someone in your family, someone that is loved, is deemed a predator for something that wasn’t a crime a few years ago.

  3. Gralphr

    No matter how you cut it, years in prison for a picture. There’s tons of pictures with ISIL cutting off people’s heads online, yet I dont see them charging people with murder for viewing them…………

    • C

      Ain’t that the truth. There’s video of children dying with there mothers after being shot, children (ISIL “cubs”) as young as 4 or 5, shooting people in the head, and the list goes on.
      Images of nude children, though, and the public’s moral outrage meter suddenly escalates to DEFCON 1.
      Depictions of child abuse in any form should be illegal, but publishing or creating images of their suffering, dying or causing the same to others is, in my mind, the most vile and disgusting thing imaginable.

      • Michael

        IDK, C. You clearly don’t understand the difference between an image of a child nude, including one of a male with an erection, and child rape. Images or videos of some turd rapping an infant, or any prepubescent child, are not less vile than images of children committing violent acts. If you manufacture, distribute and/or possess that type of material, then you deserve to spend the rest of your life in jail.

        • Joe123

          Michael, nobody is raping infants except possibly the extreme marginal minority. Please relax.

          People who have no possible actual understanding of what underage porn even looks like should not have much credibility on this topic since they have never even seen what it is, have they? 99% of people stumble upon it by accident when looking at regular porn (shocking isn’t it). I can assure you if such material was all as ‘horrible’ as clueless people make it sound, then we wouldn’t have so many normal people from all ages and professions and walks of life caught having it, now would be?

          I’m sure some of it is showing real abuse, however, like everything in life, things aren’t black and white. A naked underage person may feel violated for anyone looking at their images. Should we start putting people in jail for psychological thoughts crimes now? Oh boy, so many places where we can start. The current laws are so way out of left field that it’s insane, and INHUMANE. I don’t give a damn what pictures someone possesses, the real vile inhumane bast*red are the ones who believe they have a RIGHT to take away someone’s years of life (and their family’s) for looking at pictures!

          And NO watching children being murdered, and blatantly violently abused is NOT the same thing as a 12-13 year old finding out about sex (as if we all weren’t there at that age. Absolute hypocrisy at its finest). Let’s cut all the BS finally and start using our heads a bit to look at things logically.

        • Will Allen

          Life in prison for possession? I hope you don’t live in Amerika. I expect there are plenty of sh*thole countries in the world that fully embrace that.

          I think a person who punches a child in the face should spend more time in prison than a person who looks at pictures. Any pictures.

        • C

          Where in my comment did I try to equate images of nude minors to those of infant rape? I didn’t so don’t try and imply that I did or lack of an understanding between the two. In fact I early state that abuse of kids in any form should be illegal.
          Read my comment again then go FY.

        • Michael

          I didn’t realize there were so many proponents of child abuse here at ACSOL, let alone people who are comfortable expressing what is obviously a vast personal knowledge of KP. That being the case, there probably should be harsher legislation, because ya’ll don’t get it.

        • K

          Michael, I think your position on possession of child porn is counterproductive to the organization. I’m glad you have your own opinion, but simply having in your possession a picture(s) and videos of child porn should not warrant life in prison. I agree with Will, someone who physically touched a child, or anyone for that matter, whether sexually or otherwise destructively should spend more time in the slammer than someone who had pictures or videos. That’s with the exception of those who produced the images in the first place.

  4. E

    Obviously the harsher sentences are having a positive effect on the offense rate……….NOT!
    But when a judge imposes a “softer” sentence, they suffer the rath of an uniformed public.
    Judges (and evedently the Mi. A.G.) are recognizing the absurdity of the registry and sentencing guidelines for these offenses.

    • E @ new E

      Very confusing when you start using a moniker someone else is already using!

      Of course, no copyrights on here…

  5. Joe123

    “That’s right: If one person hands another a drawing of children engaged in sexual activity, both can get five to 20 years.”

    How can any human being with a decent IQ in their heads go and ‘defend’ their country when the lawmakers here have passed some of the most sick, evil, insane and unjust laws to have ever been put into existence ?

    I find it beyond any logical reason why anyone would be proud of the US for having some of the dumbest laws on planet earth like this. The lawmakers have generally destroyed this country by destroying basic civil liberties. I don’t see those idiots claiming that looking at images of beheadings or other absolutely abhorrent violent acts that people find online should be Outlawed. Idiots. 99.9% of people that pass these laws have no damn clue what they’re even talking about, as if a picture of someone masturbating or having sex while under the age of 18 is somehow ‘violent’ by nature and absolutely creates a ‘market’ for abuse. That is the slickest, most fraudulent logic I’ve heard that keeps prisons full in this country, and real vulnerable children unsafe.

  6. someone who cares

    Joe1,2,3 ~ I have to agree with a lot of the things you are saying, and people should look at all this more logically. I don’t know anyone who has ever looked at CP nor have I ever watched it. I do, however, know people who watch movies where people are being murdered, tortured, raped, etc. I also know teenagers who play video games where they assassinate, kill, bomb, etc. Do I think they will act up on this in real life and kill, assassinate, bomb real people, or even fantasize about it? Maybe some will, but the majority won’t. If they did, we would be in a world of trouble. Merely watching things does not mean we will act up on it. End of story.

  7. David

    700% increase in 15 years!! That’s insane!!

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