January 1, 1999

Federal obscenity law enforcement continues at low rate

A few minnows get caught, while the sharks swim free

U.S. Justice Department data, recently obtained by Morality in Media, show that enforcement of Federal obscenity laws continued at a low rate last year.

In fiscal year 1998, the 93 U.S. Attorneys initiated only eight prosecutions and obtained only seven convictions in cases where the lead charge was a violation of the Federal obscenity laws (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1460-1468). There were 33 criminal referrals from Federal law enforcement agencies, and 26 declinations to prosecute.

For fiscal 1997, there were six prosecutions, six convictions, 24 referrals, and 20 declinations to prosecute. The data were obtained from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University.

Two prosecutions each were started in fiscal 1998 in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) and the District of South Carolina. One prosecution each was started in the Western District of Arkansas (Fort Smith), Southern District of Iowa (Des Moines), Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit), and Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati). There were two convictions in Eastern Louisiana, and one each in New Hampshire, Southern Ohio, South Carolina, and the Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham). In some cases, convictions were the result of prosecutions initiated in previous fiscal years.

Morality in Media President Bob Peters commented, “As far as we know, none of the cases recorded in these statistics involves the prosecution of a major obscenity distributor. At most, a few minnows are being scooped up while the big sharks are left alone. The hard-core pornography racket is thus free to rake in billions each year preying upon the weaknesses of unfortunate individuals, young and old.”

“President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno are proving to be the best friends the hardcore, illegal porn industry ever had,” Mr. Peters added.

If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to write at least one Presidential candidate to ask what his or her policy will be regarding enforcement of Federal obscenity laws.

Author: MIM   1999

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