New Mexico Attorney General Would Rather See Sexting Teens Treated As Sex Offenders Than See His Funding 'Jeopardized'

from the christ,-what-an-asshole dept

Teens sexting can’t be addressed by existing laws. Law enforcement — which far too often chooses to involve itself in matters best left to parents — bends child pornography laws to “fit” the crime. They often state they’re only doing this to save kids from the harm that might result by further distribution of explicit photos. How exactly turning a teen into a child pornographer who must add his or herself to the sex offender registries is less harmful than the imagined outcomes cited by law enforcement is never explained.

Over in New Mexico, legislators are making an honest attempt to keep sexting teens from being treated like sex offenders. And it’s law enforcement that’s leading the opposition to the proposed changes. The bill would continue to uphold harsh penalties for actual child pornographers while decriminalizing sexting between teens.

The New Mexico Attorney General is having none of it, as Reason’s Robby Soave reports:

“I cannot support an amendment that weakens protections for teenagers from predatory activity, creates a dangerous new child exploitation loophole, and places New Mexico’s federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force funding in jeopardy,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas in a statement, according to the Alamogordo Daily News.

This statement is not only ridiculous, but it shows the AG is more interested in budget lines than the future of teens who do the sort of things teens are inevitably going to do. Balderas is explicitly stating that he’s willing to sacrifice young lives in order to secure his task force’s funding. That’s just sickening. In Balderas’ world, sexting teens are nothing more than a revenue stream.

As Soave points out, the legislation still contains harsh punishments for child pornographers and does nothing to create a “loophole” for accused offenders. What it would do is keep teens from being charged for exchanging explicit photos with their peers by carving out an exception for photos exchanged by teens ages 14-17.

There’s nothing logical about applying sexual predator/child pornography laws in this way. But Balderas has helpfully explained why many law enforcement officials are more than happy to do exactly that. There’s good money in chasing down child pornographers — a criminal act reviled by a majority of their constituents. Anything that might jeopardize these funds — like treating sexting teens as a disciplinary/educational problem rather than a criminal one — is to be rejected out of hand.

Soave notes Balderas was so incensed by this threat to his funding that he and his staff walked out of the hearing in a show of outrageously stupid, callously self-centered solidarity. Balderas may want to play hardball with child pornographers, but he’s also shown he’s more than willing to fuck a few kids himself when there’s money on the line.

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Comments on “New Mexico Attorney General Would Rather See Sexting Teens Treated As Sex Offenders Than See His Funding 'Jeopardized'”

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40 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Just like the police officer that insisted on obtaining a pornographic picture of the teenager accused of sending pictures of himself. I’m sure he doesn’t see how much harm he is doing to everyone involved. I think it might be best to do a computer scan of all electronics he has access too to ensure that he isn’t abusing his position for immoral purposes directly. Oh yeah that first guy I mentioned, had tons of Child Porn on his home computer.

Robert says:

Dangerous Territory

Got to be careful about giving some children too much power. How long does a questionable photo have to exist on an adults phone for that adult to be charge with a major crime.
Any student could bring down any adult by the simply act of that child sending that adult a photo.
Most children would not but there are definitely some that would.

Lois M (profile) says:

Re: Dangerous Territory

As I see it, the bill exempts 14 to 17 year-olds from sending such pictures to EACH OTHER, not setting up older teens and adults for prosecution. However, it would make sense to exempt anyone who could legally have sex with these teens from prosecution for receiving pictures of the younger teens, and the crime should not be a sex crime, requiring registration, under any circumstances. Perhaps setting up an older adult could be prosecuted as false accusation or something similar.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“So the question is actually what is worse: destroying the kids lives through sexual abuse or insane law enforcement?”

There is no equivalence in this case. Sexting is not “sexual abuse” and the potential for long-term harm to minors from sexting is far less than the harm from being forcefully dragged through the legal system and coming out the other side as a registered sex offender.

Anonymous Coward says:

I heard about this on the radio in Albuquerque a couple of weeks ago. Balderas’ specific gripe with the issue is he thinks the law can be construed to say that if someone is caught with child porn, but a minor actually created it, then the person in possession of it can’t be charged and the creation of the image/video can’t be legally investigated. I haven’t read the text of the amended law in detail so I can’t say if he’s right or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Balderas’ specific gripe with the issue is he thinks the law can be construed to say that if someone is caught with child porn, but a minor actually created it, then the person in possession of it can’t be charged and the creation of the image/video can’t be legally investigated.

So, he’s saying someone can’t be charged with creating something they didn’t create? That sounds reasonable to me.

Dave says:

Go figure

My opinion is sex crime is big business for the USA government that’s why its going international now. I am willing to bet the states make more off the child porn then the pornographers through the giant system they set up to punish them and to also satisfy the public’s hunger for vengeance. Its not like they actually care about kids they made it legal to kill them after all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Huh?

What it would do is keep teens from being charged for exchanging explicit photos with their peers by carving out an exception for photos exchanged by teens ages 14-17.

Let me get this straight. It would be illegal for someone under 14 to distribute kiddy porn. Then, for a period of 4 years of their life (age 14 – 17), it would suddenly become legal for them to do so. Then, upon turning 18, it would just as suddenly become illegal again.

Sounds pretty screwy to me.

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