Congress Passes Bill To Throw Parents Of Sexting Teens In Jail For 15 Years

By Rachel Blevins

The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill to criminalize “sexting” among teenagers. But that’s not all. This ominous bill also punishes their parents by making them face a 15-year mandatory, minimum sentence.

H.R. 1761, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017, seeks to “criminalize the knowing consent of the visual depiction, or live transmission, of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and for other purposes.”

Any person who, in a circumstance described in subsection (f), knowingly—employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a minor to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct, or transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct; produces or causes to be produced a visual depiction of a minor engaged in any sexually explicit conduct where the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and such visual depiction is of such conduct; or transmits or causes to be transmitted a live visual depiction of a minor engaged in any sexually explicit conduct.

But the teenagers who are caught “sexting” are not the only ones who will be punished. The bill also states that “any parent, legal guardian, or person having custody or control of a minor” who “knowingly permits such minor to engage in, or to assist any other person to engage in, sexually explicit conduct knowing that a visual depiction of such conduct will be produced or transmitted shall be punished.”

As the Public Defender Blog points out:

The key words here are “knowingly permits.”  That’s an extraordinarily low standard for a criminal offense.  This language would apply to any parents who discover that their teenager is sexting with a romantic partner and then fail to cut off the child’s phone and internet access.

It is certainly justifiable for parents to take such decisive action when they catch their children sexting.  But it is also understandable that some parents might prefer a different approach.  Phones and the internet are essential to modern life, and parents might reasonably choose to tolerate sexting while warning their teenagers against it.  Indeed, experts advise that parents should supervise their kids’ phone and internet use, but also caution that “throwing the book” at teens when they’re caught won’t do much good.

Even if the clause that punishes parents was taken out of the bill, it still leaves the question of why 15-year-olds are being subjected to mandatory minimum sentences.

During a debate over the bill on the House floor, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), noted that one of the most alarming parts about the bill is that it “explicitly states that the mandatory minimums will apply equally to an attempt or a conspiracy.”

“That means if a teenager attempts to obtain a photo of sexually explicit conduct by requesting it from his teenage girlfriend, the judge must sentence that teenager to prison for at least 15 years for making such an attempt,” Scott said. “If a teenager goads a friend to ask a teenager to take a sexually explicit image of herself, just by asking, he could be guilty of conspiracy or attempt, and the judge must sentence that teenager to at least 15 years in prison.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, also noted that the bill raises “new constitutional concerns” and would arguably “exacerbate overwhelming concerns with the unfair and unjust mandatory minimum sentencing that contributes to the over-criminalization of juveniles and mass incarceration generally.”

“While the bill is well intended, it is overbroad in scope and will punish the very people it indicates it is designed to protect: our children,” Lee said.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) in March, passed in the House of Representatives last week with a larger majority. It was opposed by 53 Democrats, and just two Republicans—Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ken.).

While supporters of the bill argue that each individual case would be up to the discretion of the judge, the fact is that if this bill becomes law, and it includes a 15-year, mandatory minimum sentence, it will set a troubling precedent for both teenagers, and their parents. It also serves as a reminder that making something “illegal” won’t scare teenagers out of doing it—instead, it will just create another way for the government to meddle in the personal lives of citizens, and it will do so by punishing only the ones who are caught.

Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. This article first appeared here at The Free Thought Project.

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14 Comments on "Congress Passes Bill To Throw Parents Of Sexting Teens In Jail For 15 Years"

  1. Grace by Faith on yt | June 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Reply

    Notice this bill (it’s a charge of money just like a phone bill with financial and physical penalties for non-compliance) is only about internet behavior and nothing else? That’s because they know if it included “anywhere”, pre-, grade- and high-school teachers would all face caging (being incarcerated in a cage) for the extremely graphic sexual content – under the guise of sex education – with which they’re programming and conditioning our sons and daughters, now starting in soon-to-be mandatory preschool, because the earlier they get them, the easier they are to be de-familiarized (programmed that school authority trumps family authority because families are incompetent guardians only and “children” are possessions of The State).

    This is just more upside-down legal hocus-pocus where what’s bad for the goose is never bad for the gander so long as the gander is The State.

    So it’s fine to hold boys and girls hostage in systematically depraved sexual confusion and indoctrination, but if they take it home, the only thing fine about it is the fine $$$ itself. And the bonus for The State is more hardship, interference, and ultimately destruction of the family and its natural inherent authority over the minds and bodies of our babies.

  2. Chuck Morrison | June 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Reply

    The economy is about to take a nosedive, and it may be the worst of the modern era. When there is no cell service, and we’re scrounging through dumpsters and catching cats and rats for food, this law will no longer matter.

  3. Milly Vanilly | June 13, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Reply

    Yes…get the parents ‘out of the way’ so the politicians will have new teenage playmates.
    Part of the ‘punishment’ for the teens will be to ‘stay in touch’ with THEIR overseers.

  4. TrumpIsNotYourSavior | June 13, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Reply

    Typical republican tyrannical theocratic legislation. Just like that POS Jeff Sessions saying anyone who smokes marijuana is a “bad person”. Just look at that scum sucker Mike Johnson of Louisiana. He looks like the typical conservative republican that loves to beat people over the head with the bible and portrays the good christian image while hes snorting coke off gay male strippers asses behind the scenes. These people would be back to burning “witches” at the stake and cutting the tongues out of “blasphemers” if they gained absolute power.

  5. We have a plea deal for you….how about a nice flight to a Caribbean Island?

  6. Abbie Hoffman pointed out 50 years ago that in Texas the sentence for murder was considerably less than the sentence for smoking a joint with a minor, so his mocking advice for when a Texas cop approached while you’re smoking a joint with your little brother was “kill the kid”. There’s just too much law. That could be taken by some as throwing restraint to the wind, but there’s just too much law. Pictures are just pictures, plants are plants, yelling profanities over the phone at police/Government which destroys lives for a living is a form of self-defense when there isn’t much else available unless you’re rich. How ’bout we suspend some of these Wars On The People until the Government comes clean on their domestic and global crime spree?

  7. They won’t be happy until we’re all in prison, under their thumbs, and ready to be slave labor just for the privilege of an extra bologna sandwich. Keep it up, clueless sheep. You’re next.

    • Common Sense | June 14, 2017 at 6:10 am | Reply

      The worst of us have risen to positions of power and the majority of decent people just stand around and watch as they are run roughshod by the corrupt few. We’re too afraid of being called a name (racist) to do the right thing and stop the REAL criminals.

      A people deserve any regime they endure.

      PS What’s to say evil kids don’t use this to get their parents thrown in jail and lie about their knowledge of sexting.
      The corruption within our systems and people are eating away at the very foundation and it will soon collapse upon itself. We have completely forgotten the lessons of Rome.

  8. These filthy traitors spend their time on this rather than investigate Pizzagate.

  9. After I read the complete text of the bill, the one glaring thing that everyone is missing is that ANYONE who protests this law or speaks out against it (like here), CAN be found guilty of “promotion” and “encouraging” the sexting activity and so is also liable for a 15-year MANDATORY jail sentence. Remember when the First Amendment used to protect our speech? You are now guilty of “abetting” a felony crime if you are just verbally against their law.

  10. Louis Charles | June 14, 2017 at 11:01 am | Reply

    Since when did sex between teens become illegal? I figure it has to be if simply “sexting” is. There isn’t even physical contact in phone sex. I guess masturbation will be soon warranting a jail sentence, too? If this isn’t an excuse to promote Jury Nullification, NOTHING IS.

  11. rhondareichel | June 14, 2017 at 11:30 am | Reply

    This is scary….how would you know your teen was sexting? Sometimes it’s dangerous to be a parent. This punishment sure doesn’t fit the crime.

    THIS IS A CRAZY LAW….15 year mandatory sentence for sexting….give me a break….these kids are exposed to sex constantly on TV so why not stop that? Raging hormones won’t be denied in most cases. You can’t watch your kid 24/7. Best practice seems to be don’t get your kid a phone….or a computer.

    Let’s just see what Anthony Weiner gets sentenced. His “Carlos Danger” name might be prophetic. I’ll bet he doesn’t get 15 years MANDATORY.

    Given all the sex scandals in congress you’d have to wonder why bring the hammer down on the kids? Why not just the PEDOS?

    Who is supposed to monitor all kid’s phones too? Is this a justification for more surveillance?

    It sure is UNFAIR TO WORKING MOTHERS….and dad’s raising children by themselves.

  12. Any mandatory sentencing is criminal in itself. That’s what we have judges for. I say all politicians who advocate mandatory sentencing be put to death….mandatory!

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