PLB Submits Letter to USSC Advocating Child Pornography Sentencing Reform

By Christopher Zoukis

The United States Sentencing Commission is responsible for the promulgation and periodic revisions to the United States Sentencing Guidelines used in the federal courts.  The Commission has recently submitted a report to Congress, in which it identified thirteen points warranting comment.  One of these areas deals with Guidelines provisions used in child pornography sentencing, in response to a growing number of such cases, many the result of expanded federal jurisdiction.  There appears to be a growing chorus of legal experts — on both sides of the courtroom — urging reform of the sentencing provisions used in such cases.  We at Prison Law Blog concur.  

In accordance with the stance which we have taken, the Prison Law Blog has submitted the following letter to the United States Sentencing Commission.  We strongly suggest that you either add your contact information to the below letter and submit it to the Commission, or write your own letter stating what you feel the Commission’s priorities should be in this fast-changing legal arena.  The deadline for accepting public comment ends on July 15, 2013.  So, do not delay.  Today is the day when your voice can be heard.  Together we can help to make the American criminal justice system a more equitable and evenhanded enterprise.


U.S. Sentencing Commission

One Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2-500

South Lobby

Washington, DC 20002-8002

Attention: Public Affairs Priorities Comment

July 5, 2013

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing in reference to your recent list of tentative priorities for Congress to address.  I wish to be heard on this matter and to have my comments considered by your organization as part of the public comment period.


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College Program for Women at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility

By Christopher Zoukis

Established in 1997, the Image courtesy offers women who are inmates at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility coursework that leads to an Associate of Arts degree and beyond.  In the wake of 1994’s discontinuance of public funds supporting prison education programming, various colleges in the region met to design a new Bedford Hills program supported by private funding.  Operated by Marymount Manhattan College, the program features faculty from other nearby colleges as well such as Mercy College, Sarah Lawrence, Barnard College, and others.  Currently, each semester regularly sees more than 175 students working toward their degrees and earning college credits. 

The Program

Marymount Manhattan College offers Bedford Hills program participants the opportunity to take college preparatory classes, earn an Associate of Arts degree, and earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.  To apply to the program, inmates of Bedford Hills must have either a high school diploma or a GED.  Moreover, upon taking placement tests, participants may initially have to take college preparatory classes to prepare for the degree programs themselves.  All degree-seeking candidates must take general education courses just as any other college-level students. 

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