Chairman Smith: Internet child pornography may be the fastest growing crime in America, increasing an average of 150% per year. Every day online criminals prey on America’s children with virtual anonymity. And according to recent estimates, there are as many as 100,000 fugitive sex offenders in the U.S.
Congress has taken important steps to combat child exploitation, including passage of the Adam Walsh Act in 2006 and the PROTECT Our Children Act in 2008. But our work is not done.
That is why Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and I introduced H.R. 6063, the Child Protection Act of 2012. It provides law enforcement officials with important tools and additional resources to combat the growing threat of child pornography and exploitation.
This bipartisan legislation increases penalties for child pornography offenses that involve young children and strengthens protections for child witnesses and victims. The bill allows a federal court to issue a protective order if it determines that a child victim or witness is being harassed or intimidated and imposes criminal penalties for violation of a protective order.
The Child Protection Act ensures that paperwork does not stand in the way of the apprehension of dangerous criminals. This bill gives the U.S. Marshals limited subpoena authority to locate and apprehend fugitive sex offenders.
Unlike the other 300 federal administrative subpoena powers, which are used at the beginning of a criminal investigation, the Marshals’ use of subpoena authority under this bill will occur only after:
The fugitive is arrested pursuant to a judge-issued warrant; indicted for committing a sex offense; convicted by proof beyond a reasonable doubt; and sentenced in a court of law;
The fugitive is required to register as a sex offender;
The fugitive flees or otherwise violates their registration requirements; AND
A state or federal arrest warrant is issued for violation of the registration requirements.
This narrow subpoena authority is critical to help take convicted sex offenders off the streets.
H.R. 6063 also reauthorizes for five years the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces. The ICAC Task Forces were launched in 1998 and officially authorized by Congress in the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008.
The ICAC Task Force program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces that represent over 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies dedicated to child exploitation investigations.
Since 1998, the ICAC Task Forces have reviewed more than 280,000 complaints of alleged child sexual abuse and have arrested more than 30,000 individuals.
The Child Protection Act increases the cap on grant funds for ICAC training programs and makes several clarifications to provisions enacted as a part of the PROTECT Our Children Act.
Finally, the bill requests a report from the Justice Department on implementation of the National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System.
This bipartisan, bicameral bill is supported by a number of outside organizations, which include:
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children;
The Major City Chiefs of Police;
Futures Without Violence;
The Fraternal Order of Police;
The International Association of Chiefs of Police;
The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence;
The National District Attorneys Association;
The National White Collar Crime Center (NWC3);
The National Sheriffs’ Association;
The Surviving Parents Coalition;
The Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN)
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence; AND
The National Association to Protect Children (a national pro-child, anti-crime membership association established in 2004).
I thank Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her work on this issue. And I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this important legislation to protect America’s children. I reserve the balance of my time.