- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

DENVER (AP) - A Denver Post analysis finds that child pornography convictions in state courts have nearly tripled over five years, but a smaller percentage of those convictions are resulting in prison time.

The Post (https://bit.ly/1qkXHkl ) reported Sunday that judges gave prison time in only about 40 percent of the state’s 246 child pornography-related convictions in 2013. That’s down from 56 percent of state child pornography convictions that yielded prison time in 2008.

Federal laws are tougher than Colorado laws that do not carry minimum prison sentences for people guilty of child pornography offenses. Only people convicted of the same crime twice face mandatory prison time.

But federal authorities have limited resources to take on such cases, meaning many child pornography cases end up in state court and in lighter sentences.

Timothy Robinson, of Aurora, Colorado, for example, collected thousands of images and videos of children being raped and beaten, and he was sentenced to probation and three years in community corrections. A similar case in federal court involving David Moe, who stashed child pornography on hundreds of DVDs and computers in his Denver home, ended when a judge sentenced Moe to eight years in federal prison.

Some prosecutors say lighter penalties can be good for those who mostly need therapy, while others say lack of mandatory sentences lets serious criminals evade harsher punishment.

“It’s frustrating,” said Arapahoe County Deputy District Attorney Cara Morlan, who sought prison time for Robinson. “This guy is going to be allowed to walk out into the community every day.”

Federal law says people who knowingly download child pornography must be sentenced to at least five years in prison. Creating child porn carries a minimum 15-year sentence.

No bills have been introduced in the state legislature to increase sentences for child pornographers, but similar efforts to add mandatory minimums to other crimes have failed. Lawmakers have said they don’t want to interfere with judges’ discretion.

District Attorney Pete Weir of the 1st Judicial District said he doubts everyone convicted of a child pornography offense needs prison. Judges, he said, know how to determine where offenders’ cases fall on the spectrum.

The majority of the state child porn convictions that yielded prison sentences also involved charges of sex abuse on a child.

Authorities say they are concerned about the sentencing issue because the amount of child pornography being created has soared in recent years with new technology.

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Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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