An interesting, if creepy trend in criminal justice these days is the growing number of (mostly) men prosecuted for having child pornography.
There was a time when child porn was exchanged on polaroids in back alleys around the nation, one local detective told me recently. But these days, the internet has made it possible to move millions of pictures and videos instantaneously, and law enforcement is struggling to keep up.
In the words of AP writer Paul Elias:
The number of federal child porn cases has exploded during the last 15 years as Congress passed mandatory five-year minimum sentences and federal authorities have declared such investigations a priority.
The FBI has made more than 10,000 arrests since 1996 and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reports a similar number of arrests since its creation in 2003. The U.S. Department of Justice says prosecutions are up 40 percent since 2006 resulting in roughly 9,000 cases. In 2009, 2,315 suspects were indicted.
No crime’s prosecution has exploded similarly, Elias points out: a 2,500 percent rate increase by the FBI.