ACTION ALERT: Oppose SB3951, the PROTECT Act of 2022

By Sandy . . . United States Senator Josh Hawley failed in his attempt to have what he calls the PROTECT Act of 2022 from passing the U.S. Senate chamber unanimously thanks to an objection from Illinois senator Dick Durbin. This particular parliamentary procedure is known as unanimous consent and fails if one or more members of the body voices an objection.

This does not kill the bill; it simply means that rather than being “fast-tracked,” it is referred to committee, in this case the Committee on the Judiciary.

This bill, SB3951, according to the language on Hawley’s press release, will

. . . create a new mandatory minimum sentence of five years for every child porn offender who possesses pornography, and prohibit judges from sentencing below the Guidelines range for facts found during trial or admitted by the defendant. This change will ensure that judges impose tougher sentences on child pornography offenders.

Under this bill, judges will have no discretion in sentencing and will be unable to make any considerations based on individualization.

This bill makes several incorrect assumptions; to the contrary:

  • much online pornography is unsolicited and clicks can be accidental or out of curiosity;
  • those who view child pornography vary widely;
  • longer prison sentences do not enhance rehabilitation.

In partnership with Families Against Mandatory Minimums, NARSOL has sent a formal letter of opposition to the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee chair and all its members, listed here.

Those who reside in states which a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee represents may write your own letter of opposition to him/her and may use the points listed above in stating your opposition. Remember also to make clear that the member is your elected senator and that you are not in agreement with the policies dictated by SB3951. Keep your letter concise and to the point.

We who advocate against laws such as SB3951, which lump all offenders into one heap and then do not allow judicial discretion in sentencing, need to know what to expect next.

If the bill passes, those who push for enhanced and additional punishment of all registrants will use its passage as a “gloating” point in future campaigns and possibly a stepping stone to a higher position.

If the bill does not pass, those who push for enhanced and additional punishment of all registrants will use its failure to claim an increased threat against America’s children and as a scare tactic of what will continue to happen if those who are “soft on crime” are allowed their way.

If the bill stalls and dies in committee, the scenario will be very much the same as if the bill had failed to pass.

Is there anything we can do? Is there anything YOU can do? Yes!

The next time a candidate seeking office or seeking reelection promises to do everything possible to assure that more “criminals” get longer prison sentences, listen to them.

If they promise to make things as tough as possible for “child pornographers” or for “sex offenders,” pay attention.

Believe them.

They almost assuredly mean exactly what they say.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

27 Thoughts to “ACTION ALERT: Oppose SB3951, the PROTECT Act of 2022”

  1. AvatarAnnoymous

    This is some what similar to “Fresh Start Act of 2021” H.R 5651, only excluding sex offenses and being harsh on the offenders from being able to obtain expungements. We should also address H.R 5651 to stop punitive punishing sex offenses while allowing every other criminal offense to be able to get a expungement. Being able to do so, will greatly remove a great deal of offenders from registry and give a second chance to majority of offenders who are first time offender’s.

  2. AvatarLovecraft

    There are plenty if things wrong with this bill, but the worst part with anything involving mandatory minimums is that it takes the ability to judge out of a judges hands. It’s another case of a branch of government overreaching and taking control where it has no business or legal authority.

    The other thing I would want the senate judiciary committee to know is that the US government is the largest distributor of cp via the FBI. Its in court documents so there is no dodging or sugar coating it. Judges in the past have reprimanded them in court and shamed them for disseminating cp in the hopes of catching people.

    1. AvatarCherokeeJack

      There are also things wrong with United States Senator Josh Hawley as well for taking away a judge’s discretion to make a judgement. I do not know what kind of education senator Hawley has, but unless he also went to law school, he should first consult with the judiciary branch. This should be done before creating a sinkhole for anyone charged with a certain crime regardless and without consideration of the circumstances and details of the matter.

  3. AvatarCherokeeJack

    ANY bill / law that does not give a judge some discretion, is a disaster. For example, say they create a law that says anyone who shoots someone must serve at least 5 years of prison.

    But you take away a judge’s discretion when for example, one case the shooter was a 19 year old kid with Down’s syndrome who picked up a gun he found in his parents room and it went off shooting his parent. The second case, a man goes in a bank and shoots the teller.

    Lets say in both cases the victim lives, but both the kid who didn’t know better and the bad guy robber might be sentenced to the same prison time regardless of circumstances.

    1. AvatarAnnoymous

      How about a person who has a doctor’s degree who was convinced of cp and molesting , in a low facility versus a person with mental health problems first offence of cp in a very short time frame in a violent medium facility. Scared afraid of being beaten and afraid of Solitary.

  4. AvatarLarry T

    This reinforces my belief that the judges are not in charge of the courts, but the courts are controlled by the prosecutors and the judges cowtow to the prosecutors. The judges are not really necessarily to our injustice system.
    The Congress is not a representative body of the people and the Representatives and Congressman/Women, do not represent their constituency, but their own interests such as reelection.
    I read a great deal and study current affairs and this fact is becoming more evident daily.
    The only time the Constitution is mentioned is when it is convenient and supportive of their individual opinions. Otherwise it is referred to as antiquated and outdated law.
    Just as in the 1980s when the war on drugs and tough on crime became the marching hymn of the politicians, the Sex Crimes are the crime du jour.
    As long as the general population continues to drink the Kool Aid, the injustice will continue.

  5. AvatarLJW

    Josh Hawley is literally asking to look into what he’s up to. Inevitably, when one of these politicians comes out loudly against anything, they themselves are guilty of the same thing. Josh is yelling a little too loudly about this subject. If someone were to investigate what Josh is up to in his spare time, he might not have enough free time to spend on such stupid bills.

  6. AvatarBob

    Does watching a video of a house burning down make someone an arsonist? Does watching a video of someone getting shot to death make you a murderer? No. In my situation I had an addiction to porn that spiraled out of control. I ended up crossing the line into child pornography. I had never been in trouble in my life before this happened. To this day I feel awful knowing I did something like this. I’m not the kind of person who would ever touch a child. They need to go after the ones who are producing the child porn. Not everyone who looks at it.

    1. Avatarmbgodofwar

      That always galled me that they equated viewing CP as doing/being an accomplice yet a producer/supplier can’t monitor how often media is viewed once downloaded. Some people are just collectors who download or copy everything, whether they listen/watch or not.
      So I’m suppose to believe the fantasy of: Long before modern streaming services were able to track viewership, CP peddlers were able to know what files got watched the most and somehow sent this info back to the makers for them to make more?? Or that ex-victims with PTSD fear that everything bad happening in their life was/is because someone…in the general public…who somehow wants that ex-vic to know of their illegal viewing habits…might be making fun of them/impeding their life?? A normal psychiatrist would prescribe them meds, call them paranoid, and give them counseling, but various prosecutions treat this like some 17th century witch trial testimony.

    2. AvatarThe Criminalized Man

      Thank you for pointing out that this is a fantasy.

      > So I’m suppose to believe the fantasy of: …ex-victims with PTSD fear
      > that everything bad happening in their life was/is because someone…
      > somehow wants that ex-vic to know of their illegal viewing habits…
      > might be making fun of them/impeding their life??

      These unjust censorship laws are based on just that myth. Conviction and punishment of people caught in the trap only enact “hurt people hurt people” (tossed about a lot in therapy groups) into reality.

    3. AvatarWilliam

      You are 100 percent correct. I had an addiction to pornography and I served a mandatory minimum sentence in my state. Then one day I saw on the news a reporter showing kids dying on TV from serin gas poisoning. He actually videoed a kid dying!!!! Now that was a crime saved to video. Should the reporter not be charged with crimes against children??? Sad they want to putting the screws to us.

  7. Avatarmut

    supply and demand. without supply there could be no demand here yet that side of the equation is oddly absent from his diatribe. maybe an economic factor is clouding his judgment or maybe its attonement for his own college years.

  8. AvatarTim

    This nation has gone insane with legalistic tendencies…these laws apply to people from the bottom up and not the top down in our two tier justice regime…enforcement loses momentum just short of the top tier…

  9. AvatarTS

    For those who are not represented by members on the committee, e.g. specific states, these sitting members also represent the country while on a committee and thus should be aptly reminded of that by those who send in letters of objection from non-member states. They wouldn’t turn away correspondence from those outside their state during the SCOTUS nominee hearing would they? No!

    By giving away the power to those whose states are represented on the committee by those who are not represented, it truly is not a full and proper representation of the country as a whole with implications across the nation, not just those states represented. Heck, I bet Sen Durbin would accept letters as the Chairman of the Committee from those states not represented in his count of for and against so everyone has a voice in the matter. Of course, if you feel you need to do it as a particular party, that is another way of reaching out to the members if your state is not represented.

  10. AvatarJeremy from Indiana

    I know I’m going to get some flak for this reply, but I don’t disagree with this bill. The code that it seeks to add to the minimum says “knowingly” so the argument about “accidental or out of curiosity” is not a defensible argument. You are correct that longer prison sentences for crime does not have a rehabilitative effect, but, if the public is informed properly, it does have a deterrent effect. Getting to the supply for this filth has been an ongoing problem for the US since many of the suppliers are foreign actors, so the next best thing is to take away their demand. Also, I am against all unconstitutional measures known as the registry. By supporting this bill rather than fighting against it, NARSOL could reaffirm their commitment to constitutional forms of punishment and the necessity for punishment and use it as an argument that if they increase sentences, there will be less need for a registry. Play the long game here.

    1. AvatarJeremy from Indiana

      Since I just read your opposition letter, I’d like to add a few things to my comment. You could propose an amendment to the law that states:

      It is a defense to this subsection if the defendant can show that he or she was not viewing the material described for purposes of sexual gratification.

      Yes, the burden is on the defendant to show this, but it does give a defense if they were trying to understand their own abuse.

  11. AvatarHarry

    Thank you for sharing this. Great worh and kudos to NARSOL.
    A member of AzRSOL.

  12. Avatarfreedomwriter

    I see an ad attacking a political opponent because they are “soft on crime” or defend “sex offenders” I make sure to vote for the person that is the subject of the ad. Like the current ads attacking Richard Irvin.

  13. AvatarFormer Offender

    I’m glad it didn’t get passed by unanimous consent. International Megan’s law passed in the U.S. back in 2016 by unanimous consent. That means ALL 100 senators (including both of MY senators) voted for it because not ONE would oppose it and (then) President Barack Obama signed it into law. Just remember these politicians can be duped and threatened into voting for these bills. It has happened before and it WILL happen again.

  14. AvatarTim in WI

    I feel compelled to question why Dick Durbin(D-Il) opted away from adopting sb3951 by unanimous consent? Did Durbin do so only because Hawley(R-MO) is an Republican? Or was Durbin motivated by what he knows what is going on in IL-DOC regarding prisoners being held beyond their mandatory release dates? There are high numbers of lawsuits underway as housing for released sex offenders are predicably drying up. Fact is looking at child porn isn’t actually a violent act or a display of real interpersonal aggression. And if you fill prison space with those who have not proven themselves capable of doing real physical harm to others, there is less prison space for factually violent individuals. This tact only results in more violent persons being on the streets. The people ultimately have a choice to make as far as which criminals we keep locked up. We cannot have to both ways. Hawley’s bill will now go to committee, and I hope it is amended such that culpability is also applied to those individuals that operate the databases in the dark web. This must include those in our own gov who also operate in the dark. The case of the kidnapping plot against Governor Witmer (MI) and the FBIs involvement in it, says a lot. Notice Witmer’s change in attitude toward the outcome in Rankin where she agreed that MI must follow the 6ths judicial determination which made the states registry database regime itself punitive. She’s been forced to walk that back, and I think the effect of a kidnapping conspiracy, real or contrived, would be effective to that end. How better to example the “need for something” as opposed to the “desire for something.” What better than unfettered electronic domestic surveillance enhanced* by Artificial intelligence.

  15. AvatarGary Teer

    SB 3951 leaves a lot to think about. It is bad in some ways, but good in other ways. Please allow me to make a point:
    1) There are some Judges that have allowed many offenders to simply walk free without any punishment or treatment being ordered for child porn. In some cases, but not all, it has a lot to do with the offenders or family members’ status in the community and it usually being a first time offense.
    2) Agreed, not all porn is solicited by a person or via their computer but when it does come through your computer, it can be controlled by the individual receiving it. There are ways to keep it from reaching your computer through security screenings. The administrator of that computer can set “parental controls” to stop having it sent to that computer.
    It must be understood that if that person makes the choice to keep it on his/her computer by storing it there or downloading it and/or printing it, that is their choice and their decision to be involved with it. It is a serious sign that they are trying to reach out for help.
    As for a mandatory minimum sentence, if it is passed, it should include mandatory counseling for first offenders and mandatory in house treatment for others. Granted, courts should not lump all offenders into one heap and not allow judicial discretion. That discretion must not be biased, prejudicial, lenient nor overbroad. The court must use specific equal and fair discretion in ordering some form of treatment for the offender. Not just punishment.
    It is when you have the first offender before you that you may be able to achieve better rehabilitative results than formerly observed. It is known that many times the court will bypass the actual law and give lighter sentences to certain individuals but not others. Judges themselves are not infallible and are subject to being coerced or bribed into the wrong decisions. Even if such is of their own choosing. That is also a strong reason for treatment advocacy at the court level in order to make it fair to everyone.
    If offenders are to be helped, the court must be the first to help the offender at the time of sentencing. The court has the power to sentence them for treatment and release them without making it worse for them. Treatment must be away from prison but still in a controlled environment. After all, many offenders have claimed that their offending started from watching child porn and some from being abused themselves.
    I am for eliminating the registry after a specific time on it but, to be truthful, it has deterred many from re-offending for various reasons. However, registration, the 1,000 to 2,000 foot rule, neighborhood offender warnings, and sometimes even full scale treatment does not hinder offending itself if a person wants to offend. One must understand the why behind it all.
    SB 3951 is simply trying to tell Judges that they can no longer use unfair judgements on offenders and that all offenders should be provided rehabilitation help at the earliest stage of the proceedings as possible.

    1. AvatarThe Criminalized Man

      Yet prosecutors and lawmakers don’t seek to understand “the why behind it all.” Laws are written so that simply “knowingly” doing something is enough – no need to prove motive. Maybe they think they know the motive already — James Dobson or Ron Book whispered it in their ear. I thought that was the definition of “prejudice” and don’t we all agree prejudice is unjust?

      Let’s end registries and residency / presence restrictions, sure. But we need to end these slippery, easy-to-convict laws as well.

  16. AvatarJim

    The United states will do everything in its power to have Everyone in the court system. This country has more people in prison than all of the other countries in the world COMBINED! And a smaller population as well than many. This is to have marks on everyone and be able to monitor and track everyone to prevent the people from causing a resistance to the government. To make us DEFENCELESS. And they are doing a VERY good job at this. Its not just sex offenders any more, Its EVERYONE. The sex offender status just gave this rights grab a running start. Keep Your Powder Dry!! and get ready!

    1. SandySandy

      Jim, I will only address one thing you said so that you will have accurate information.

      The U.S. doesn’t have more people incarcerated than all other nations combined.
      The U.S. has more people incarcerated than any other nation does even though we are smaller than some of them.
      We have the highest per capita rate of imprisonment.

    2. AvatarJim

      Thank You Sandy! I was miss informed. But still a sad reality. Thank you for your research and help for us all!

  17. AvatarMike

    Wait wait what about the study our government authorized and approved in 1994 one year before the registry was enacted. That study shows recidivism rates was at 9%, but they enacted Megan’s law anyways and kept the study quite until the Information Act. They did a study every since 1994 and every study show below 5% on every study every year. You can go on the Doj’s website and you will find these studies I’m talking about, you can contact the government to request any study or files because of The Freedom of Information Act.

  18. AvatarJim

    Hello Sandy, off of the topic here but New York Mayor started a registration list of gun offenders. This list is being aggressively opposed by everyone and they are saying how this list will put the registered person and their family at risk. The Mayor is Eric Adams and he created the “Gun Recidivist Investigation Program” that puts gun offenders on a list, similar to the sex offender list. I think the sex offender list was a test to see if the public could be scared into agreeing to lists to provide a false since of security. Now they are trying a new list that is being opposed on a big level. May help our fight if this list gets shut down.

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