he House Judiciary Committee today approved the Child Protection Act of 2012 (H.R. 6063) by voice vote. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chief sponsor of the bill, praised the Committee vote.
Chairman Smith: "Today Internet child pornography may be the fastest growing crime in America, increasing an average of 150% per year. Every day online criminals prey on our children with virtual anonymity. And according to recent estimates, there are as many as 100,000 sex offenders in the U.S. whose whereabouts are still unknown.
"I am pleased that the Committee passed the Child Protection Act of 2012, which provides law enforcement officials with important tools and additional resources to combat the growing threat of child pornography and exploitation. We must ensure that investigators have every available resource to track down predators and protect the weakest among us.
"This bill makes sure that paperwork does not stand in the way of protecting our kids. It gives the U.S. Marshals tasked with tracking down these predators the legal tools they need, and it helps prevent more victims by raising the penalties for those who hurt our children."
Background: H.R. 6063 is a bipartisan bill that increases the maximum penalties from 10 to 20 years for child pornography offenses that involve prepubescent children or children under the age of 12. The bill strengthens protections for child witnesses and victims, who are often subjected to harassment and intimidation throughout the trial process.
The Child Protection Act also extends the authorization of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces for five years and increases the cap on grant funds for ICAC training programs.
Lastly, the bill improves the ability of the U.S. Marshals Service to apprehend fugitive sex offenders by giving them express administrative subpoena authority -- only for fugitive investigations of unregistered sex offenders. The bill has 31 additional cosponsors.
H.R. 6063 is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the National Sheriffs' Association, the Major City Chiefs of Police, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), and PROTECT, among other groups.
Chairman Smith's full statement and a list of supporters can be found here: http://judiciary.house.gov/news/HR%206063.html