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July 26, 2016: A federal judge in Denver, Colorado, U.S. District Court Senior Judge John Kane, has what a lot more judges in this country need, common sense. He believes the federal sentencing guidelines for child pornography are too rigid.
That being said, Judge Kane had no choice but to sentence 45 yr. old Shawn Cheever to a 10 yr. mandatory minimum prison sentence followed by 15 yrs. supervision. (The sentence has since been appealed.)
Judge Kane’s 40 page sentencing opinion was derived from his extensive research into the 1994 Child Sexual Abuse Protection Act., where he found no studies, statistics nor basis for the need for a 10 yr. mandatory minimum. There was nothing in the law to indicate why a lesser, 5 yr. sentence could not be just as effective and produce the same low level of recidivism. The judge also noted that the Bureau of Prison’s sex offender treatment programs only take 2 and 1/2 yrs. to complete.
“Mandatory minimum sentences remove the balance between protecting and punishing the guilty versus affording every human being their dignity. The result is a punishment without any expression of rational justification” said Judge Kane.
We need more judges like Judge Kane who are willing to do the research and to stand up and take issue with the draconian child pornography laws. While the Judge’s hands were tied in having to hand down the mandatory minimum sentence in this case, I hope his research has opened his eyes and maybe he can help open the the eyes of his peers in the court system to the injustices that are on-going in sentencing of sex offender cases.