A man in Mississippi who is fighting off a 60 year federal prison sentence for making and producing porn that featured a five year old boy has argued that his prison term is unfair. He said last week that he cooperated with federal authorities and helped to break up the child porn ring in Wisconsin and the Netherlands.
Brian Robinson, 32, from Potts Camp in Mississippi, pleaded guilty in 2012 to creating several types of child pornography and sending it out on the Internet in the US and overseas. Robinson admitted that sexually explicit pictures of him and the young boy were in the material.
The Department of Justice stated that Robinson was put under arrest as part of the child porn investigation that has netted the arrests of 28 people and the IDing of more than 130 children victims.
Robinson has argued in a brief filed with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in LA that when he was sentenced, the federal judge in MS didn’t consider how much he had cooperated with federal authorities both in the US and in the Netherlands.
This sentencing issue is one of several legal matters that are going to be dealt with this week in front of a three judge court panel in New Orleans this week. The 5th Circuit Court panel also will debate if the search of the Robinson home and workplace were legal.
In the appeal, Robinson does not question the basic facts of his case.
Prosecutors stated in the documents that an FBI investigation that was started in Massachusetts led federal authorities to trace the IP address to the Accurate Roofing Company where Robinson worked in Mississippi.
The FBI then got search warrants for that business, as well as the home of Robinson, which was in Marshall County, MS. The government reported that it located more than 250 images of child porn and 20 movies that had child porn at where Robinson worked. They also found material that linked him to an IM program in an online chat where people who are interested in young boys and girls could meet.
The FBI was able to ID clothing in the Robinson home, and also a bed, window and other home items that showed up in the internet images of the young boy. Robinson also stated to the FBI that he has sent images of the boy over the Internet. He also noted that two other people who he knew as Happy and Daycare had exchanged child porn images online.
Robinson arguments for a lighter sentence noted that the US government used that information to arrest several others involved in the child porn ring. One of the people who was arrested was Robert Mikelsons, who lived in Amsterdam. He was convicted of abusing 68 children and was sentence to 18 years in prison in the Netherlands.
Court records indicated that federal prosecutors did not recommend a downward recommendation in the sentencing guidelines. US District Judge Sharion Aycock in MS ruled that she was not able to consider a lighter sentence without a recommendation from the office of the US attorney. Robinson argued that her decision was in error.
Controversy Over Child Pornography Sentencing
The case above illustrates how controversial sentences of convicted child pornographers is today. There is a trend in the US today to roll back harsh mandatory minimum sentences, but in the case of child pornography, this is highly controversial. Both state and federal lawmakers have been increasing the sentences for child porn, including simple online possession of illegal materials.
A recent study by the US Sentencing Commission of sentences for child pornographers found that current federal guidelines can produce overly strict sentences for some offenders, and lenient sentences for others. Some research has shown that a mixture of treatment and punishment may be more effective at stopping future offenses than just harsh prison sentences.
At the very least, it seems reasonable for more effort to streamline the federal sentencing process for child porn offenders, so that one offender is not unduly punished more than another.