"While Congress could and should have made determination of the amount to which a victim is entitled a simple matter, it regrettably did not."
With these words, the influential Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals became the most recent and highest court to declare that Congress should fix the law governing restitution for child pornography victims.
The AVA, which passed the Senate by a resounding 98-0, addresses all of the Ninth Circuit's concerns. It specifically sets "the amount to which a victim is entitled" in restitution. It allows victims to recover for their "lifetime losses" caused by child pornography—from grooming to production to distribution and possession. It adopts a modern "aggregate causation standard" instead of the outdated and ill-defined "proximate cause standard" which even the Ninth Circuit acknowledged "hides (or encompasses) interpretive problems of its own."
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Bob Goodlatte
[R-VA] and Jim Sensenbrenner
[R-WI], inexplicably continues to place a hold on the AVA.Victims of child pornography in the Ninth Circuit and beyond deserve a law which works. Congress needs to move decisively and pass the AVA!
Seldom has an issue—any issue
—garnered such bi-partisan support as the Amy and Vicky Act which passed the Senate in February 98–0
. Unfortunately the bill remains stalled in the House Judiciary Committee despite a March hearing
and bi-partisan vows of quick Congressional action.
Perhaps most surprising of all is that the AVA has near universal support (except from child pornography defendants) from both Republicans and Democrats, and liberal and conservative academics.
It's time for the House to get moving to finally pass the AVA! With 38 Republican co-sponsors and 35 Democrat co-sponsors, the AVA completely lacks "ideological polarization." And maybe that's the problem. But with an election approaching in just 12 months "it could look good for all of Congress to get tougher than the Court was willing to be on child pornographers—particularly when the Court’s ruling means that many victims are undercompensated."Contact House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte
[R-VA] and ask him to vote S.295/H.R. 595 out of the House Judiciary Committee for a swift vote by the full House.
Today the U.K. based Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety published a “Digital Manifesto” which it sent to all the major political parties contesting seats in the forthcoming General Election to the U.K. Parliament calling on the government to establish a new legal right for a child pornography victim to obtain compensation from any person found to be in unlawful possession of their child sex abuse image.
On March 19, 2015, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations held a hearing on the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015. Testifying were Ms. Jill E. Steinberg, National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction at the U.S. Department of Justice; The Honorable Paul G. Cassell, Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Utah College of Law; Mr. Jonathan Turley, Professor at George Washington University Law School; and Mr. Grier Weeks, Executive Director at the National Association to Protect Children.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security will hold a hearing on Child Exploitation Restitution Following the Paroline Decision on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Amy's advocate in the United States Supreme Court, professor and formal federal judge Paul G. Cassell, will testify at the hearing.
Everyone is invited to attend this public hearing as the House begins its consideration of the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015, H.R. 595.
Victims of child pornography and child exploitation, including child trafficking, should attend the hearing in person or watch online at C-SPAN.org.
Today, the United States Senate, in one of its first acts of the 114th Congress, passed the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015 on a vote of 98-0. Here are the floor speeches which were delivered by Senators Grassley, Hatch, and Schumer in support of the AVA.
In both the United States and the United Nations, the AVA will have a far-reaching impact for victims and nations everywhere. Passing the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2015 will place the United States at the forefront of the world's efforts to "secure effective protection, recovery and compensation of child victims." As Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, declared last year, "it is imperative that child victims of this form of sexual abuse are given the right to restitution for this crime. This is important as a remedy for these children, and as a deterrent to prevent future situations of child sex abuse of this kind."
I just wanted to add my thanks and congratulations to Senator Hatch for his leadership on this strong and necessary bi-partisan bill as Senator Feinstein has laid out. It’s essential to ensure that the victims of child pornography have a legally sound formula…This provides a mechanism for restitution that is essential and vital and I thank you for your hard work on it.
In looking at this bill, it really is a very significant bill…we now essentially put forward a framework for this so I want to just thank Senator Hatch and all of us who worked on it because I think it really is an important bill.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for putting the Amy and Vicky Act on the agenda and for bringing it up today. This bill addresses the unique problems that today result in no restitution at all in three-quarters of child pornography cases. It gives judges options for calculating a victim’s losses and for requiring restitution in the unique kinds of child pornography cases that happen most often today. And it relieves a victim of the never-ending burden of chasing defendants across the country for the rest of her life only to recover next to nothing.