(HARRISBURG) – The state Senate has approved legislation today to enhance the penalties for child pornography, while also establishing the Task Force on Child Pornography, according to Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) who sponsored the bill. Senate Bill 87 was overwhelmingly passed by a bi-partisan vote of 46-2.
Senator Baker explained that Senate Bill 87 was previously sponsored by the late Senator Dave Arnold (R-48), who tragically passed away earlier this month. The legislation would boost penalties in cases of child pornography in which the child is under the age of 10 or is prepubescent. This includes penalties for anyone who views, possesses, disseminates, photographs, videotapes or otherwise depicts these children engaging in sexual acts.
“With the recent passing of Senator Arnold after his courageous battle with cancer, I am pleased that this important measure has received swift Senate approval,” Baker said. “This bill was something that our colleague Dave Arnold was firmly committed to, as a professional who devoted himself to enforcing laws and securing justice for crime victims, as a proud and caring parent, and as someone possessed of strong moral conscience.”
“Our action here and now is meant as a lasting tribute to his leadership and his determination. No one should see this as simply a well-meaning gesture. This measure is a serious response to an enduring problem that is vile and despicable,” Baker continued.
Baker noted that the bill also allows the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to develop sentencing enhancements for those who sexually abuse children that are known to them.
In addition, the bill would create a special Task Force on Child Pornography to review laws pertaining to child pornography and make recommendations to improve the investigation and prosecution of offenders to ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable. The Task Force will recommend any necessary changes in state statutes, practices and policies relating to child pornography.
“As every massive hack reminds us, those using technology for illicit purposes are often more agile than those charged with protecting, enforcing, and penalizing wrongdoing,” Baker stated. “For that reason, a key piece of this legislation is the task force of professional experts charged with upgrading every aspect of our fight against this sin. One child victimized would be too many if he or she were yours or mine; thousands are being victimized who are effectively under our care. This is intolerable and must be stopped.”
Baker explained that a similar version of this bill was unanimously passed by the Senate in October, during the last legislative session, but was unable to reach the finish line before the end of the year.
Senate Bill 87 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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