A good idea gone bad: How the PA Senate sabotaged the sexual abuse prevention plan

By Randall Hayes of PARSOL

In September 2019, the increasingly prevalent and in-demand problem of online images of child sexual abuse (CSA) or “child pornography” rocked the Senate of Pennsylvania in a big way. The influential Chairman of the State Government Committee, Senator Mike Folmer, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography after uploading an image of an underage female to his Tumblr account. Following his resignation, he was eventually sentenced to a 1-2 year term of confinement and 8 years of probation.

His replacement, Senator David Arnold, is a former county-level District Attorney. Given his background as a prosecutor, the scandal surrounding Senator Folmer, and the public outrage in anticipation of a lenient-sentence double-standard for a State Senator vs. an average Joe, it did not come as a surprise when Senator Arnold introduced Senate Bill 1075 in April 2020. This bill sought to increase the penalties for child pornography crimes where abuse is depicted or victims are prepubescent.

As Legislative Director for The PA Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (PARSOL), SB 1075 came to my attention as a proposal that ran counter to our mission: A PA Safe and Just For All.

What years of research on a variety of social ills has demonstrated is that tougher penalties are not effective at reducing behavior. As a Sep. 2019 feature in The New York Times details, the unfortunate reality about images of CSA is that this material has only become more popular even as criminal penalties have become more severe.

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  • This topic has 8 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 3 weeks ago by AvatarJ.
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    • #77449 Reply
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      mike

      as usual something else to make our lives tougher then they already are sad thing is my registry end date was 28th of set here i am still on it they take there sweet time dont they how long does it take to push a button

    • #77484 Reply
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      Tim in WI

      It is amazing but ungodly how far ” child protection” can be had ” by law. ”
      Isn’t it queer how a claim of manifest evil in purpose in deterrent act’s necessity fruits a manifest evil more severe to liberty itself of the body whole. As explained in DOE03 “the basis of recidivism as a statutory matter in expost facto statute question.” Punishment itself carries the exact intended outcome of safety. By that measure ALL LAW has that inherent consideration and therefore a( or ant for that matter) non dispositive test is a bootless exercise precisely because ” civility” is a measure of every intent behind its adoption.

      This article highlights the weakness in over reliance of law. A problem
      faced by all.

    • #77593 Reply
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      Marlene Gruber

      My Son is serving time for CP .. he became addicted to Porn .. and he ended up going down a rabbit hole to hell . He was educated and a great job . He spent a lot of time on his computer . He was single . I hear no discussion about the DANGERS of Porn on the Internet and the addiction it has on the human brain . Even children have access to it in some cases . Most people DO NOT start out watching CP … they become addicted and are lured into it … like drugs . It is a public health issue . There is a group called
      “Porn the New Drug “ it is too late for my Son .. but I wish more would be done for others .. as well as the victims in the films .

    • #77592 Reply
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      GaReform

      This just highlights what happens when a former prosecutor gets a lawmaking position where they have the power to put forward laws that are more restrictive. Instead of closing loopholes that favor the influential, he thinks that increasing the penalties is the answer.
      Lawmakers need to work with groups like NARSOL & treatment providers to understand the problem. Then use what they learn to find how to best work together to deal with deterring the spread of child pornography. Treating all sex crimes the same hasn’t worked. It’s time to do more than just lock people up & then label them forever.

    • #77589 Reply
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      Perry

      Well, well. well now. IT FINALLY HAPPENED to one of The State Lawmakers. I wonder how many more have similar images ON THEIR COMPUTERS? No doubt there will be some kind of ‘Double Standard’ Punishment for the rest of them. This punishment isn’t severe enough for him. So he’s not getting what others of Us have been. He’s still getting a break. He won’t see State Prison Time. He’ll do it all in County, and get a break when time comes for his Probation…despite the fact that he’ll still most likely have to Register!
      Done!

    • #77584 Reply
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      WC_TN

      It’s not about how long it takes. It’s all about the state being spiteful and dragging its feet because they know they can and they know you have no way to force their hand.

    • #77628 Reply
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      James

      Was this prosecuted at the state or federal level? I though CP crimes were federal. The sentence doesn’t seem in line with other federal prosecutions for this type of offense. This case seems like the ‘good ol boys club’ was working behind the scenes to help this guy out.

    • #77791 Reply
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      J

      James, CP in PA can be prosecuted either as state or federal. Senator Folmer was prosecuted by the State AG’s office.

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