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The Boston Globe

Metro

US judges balk at rigid child porn sentences

Say guidelines often demand punishment beyond severity of crime

As law enforcement officers and policy makers toughen prosecutions for the distribution and possession of child pornography, they are encountering increasing resistance from federal judges in what has become a caustic conflict over the appropriate punishment for a heinous crime.

In 2010, federal judges deviated below sentencing guidelines in child pornography cases 43 percent of the time, compared with 18 percent for all other crimes, according to data from the US Sentencing Commission, the agency that Congress established to set the guidelines.

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