A man whose sentencing for possession of child pornography was of particular interest to Senate Republicans participating in the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson says he’s grateful for his light sentence.
Wesley Hawkins was one of several convicts that GOP lawmakers noted had been handed down a sentence that was dramatically lower than the recommended eight to 10 years for his offense; Jackson gave him just three months.
This was, as Jackson noted during his sentencing, due to his young age (he was 18 at the time) and her conviction that he was just “fascinated by sexual images involving what were essentially your peers.”
Jackson was convicted of possessing pornographic images of children between the ages of 8 and 12.
Speaking to The Washington Post last week, Hawkins said he appreciated Jackson’s decision to give him a very light sentence.
“I feel that she chose to take into consideration the fact that I was just getting started [in life] and she knew this was going to hold me back for years to come regardless … so she didn’t really want to add on to that,” he said.
However, as The Western Journal reported, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton noted that years after his brief time behind bars, probation officers noted that Hawkins was still seeking out provocative images of young boys.
“I think he got caught with child pornography again, and he wouldn’t have if he had been in prison the eight to 10 years the guidelines called for,” Cotton said.
Hawkins insisted that there was nothing wrong with the images he was found with.
“As it clearly states in [my court file], it was not because I reoffended. It was not because I had done anything even illegal,” he said. “According to the treatment I was in, they felt I was at a high risk of reoffending.”
According to the Post, his file stated that “despite being in treatment for more than five years,” he continued “to seek out sexually arousing, non-pornographic material and images of males 13 to 16-years-old.”
Jackson gave him a remarkably light sentence due to the impressions he had that he did not pose a threat to children; yet years later court officials determined that he was a risk for reoffending, in his own words.
Bear in mind that possessing and consuming child pornography is not a victimless crime; far from it. Each time it is viewed and shared, a victim continues to be exploited in one of the most disgraceful and despicable ways known to mankind.
This is one reason why millions of Americans, as represented by several of their lawmakers, were concerned about Jackson’s record on child pornographers, and why it’s highly unsettling that this wasn’t enough to stall her confirmation.
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