A bill sponsored by Hudson County legislators was signed into law this past Wednesday by Gov. Chris Christie which strengthens child pornography penalties and brings state child pornography laws up to par with the current federal law.
Assembly woman Angelica Jimenez, from West New York, was quoted as saying “Sexual predators that prey on our children deserve the toughest penalties”. She and Assembly man Charles Mainor, from Jersey City, along with others sponsored the bill. The new law will make the crime of causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act, commonly referred to as N.E.R.A, which requires that a defendant serve a mandatory term of 85 percent of their court -imposed sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The law will create mandatory minimum prison sentences for those convicted of distributing at least 25 images of child pornography, with a first-time offender serving at least five years and repeat offenders up to 10 years. It has always been a first degree crime with a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison for a parent or guardian to engage a child in child pornography. The new law makes it a first degree crime for anyone to engage a child in child pornography. Moreover, the new law also clears up any ambiguity about sharing child pornography via computer file-sharing or peer-to-peer software is not considered simple possession but actually distribution.
The rationale behind the new law is that those who collect child pornography in large quantities bear a greater share of the responsibility for making the market more profitable and creating a demand that further encourages the creation of new child pornography, subjecting even more children to exploitation. These stiff penalties are geared towards lessening the demand for such a market in hopes that the victimization will be minimized.
This new law comes in the wake of several other new laws that the governor has signed in recent weeks including stiffer gun controls and penalties for violators and a PTI program for certain first time offenders in municipal court.