By the Numbers: Federal Child Pornography Convictions Across the U.S.

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Tracking the numbers of federal child pornography convictions across the country isn`t easy. Federal prosecutors are given broad discretion in what charges to bring (or not bring), and what charges to drop in order to induce a guilty plea. They also control, to an extent, the final sentence by the type of charges they file.

Below are the raw data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission`s (USSC) 2021 Report, Federal Sentencing of Child Pornography Non-Production Offenses (that is, offenders who didn`t take the pictures but only distributed, received, or possessed them). The data highlights the trends and disparities in federal non-production child pornography convictions across the states.

Where Were the Most Federal Non-Production Child Pornography Convictions?

Top 5 states with the most federal child pornography convictions:
Texas (116)
Florida (96)
Missouri (85)
New York (82)
California (71)

Top 5 federal circuits with the most federal child pornography convictions:
Ninth Circuit (221)
Eighth Circuit (188)
Fourth & Fifth Circuits (147 each)
Sixth Circuit (111)

The states and territories within each federal circuit are:

First: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island Second: Connecticut, New York, Vermont
Third: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, U.S. Virgin Islands Fourth: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia Fifth: Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas
Sixth: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee
Seventh: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin
Eighth: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Ninth: Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, N. Mariana Islands, Oregon, Washington Tenth: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming Eleventh: Alabama, Florida, Georgia
D.C. Circuit: Washington, DC

Top 5 federal districts with the most federal child pornography convictions:
Eastern Dist. of Virginia
Middle Dist. of Florida
Western Dist. of Missouri
Southern Dist. of Florida
Eastern Dist. of Missouri

Where Were the Least Federal Non-Production Child Pornography Convictions?

Top 5 states with the least federal child pornography convictions:
Hawaii (1)
New Hampshire (2)
Delaware (4)
Vermont & North Dakota (5 each)
Connecticut & Alaska (6 each)

Top 5 federal circuits with the least federal child pornography convictions:
D.C. Circuit (7)
First Circuit (42)
Third Circuit (74)
Seventh & Tenth Circuits (85 each)
Second Circuit (93)

Most Common Federal Non-Production Child Pornography Convictions by Offense Type

Top 3 non-production child pornography offenses:

Distribution (625)
Possession (569)
Receipt (146)

Federal circuit with the most non-production child pornography distribution convictions:
Ninth Circuit (106)

Federal circuit with the most non-production child pornography possession convictions:
Ninth Circuit (106)

Federal circuit with the most non-production child pornography receipt convictions:
Eighth Circuit (28)

Repeat Offenders

Top 5 states with the most repeat offender sustaining a federal non-production child pornography conviction:
Missouri (16)
Minnesota (11)
Illinois & California (9 each)
Indiana, Michigan, & Ohio (6 each)
Texas & Utah (5 each)

Note: These are offenders who had any kind of prior sex offense in a state, federal, or foreign court, no matter how long ago it was.

Federal circuit with the most repeat offenders in non-production child pornography cases:
Eighth Circuit (15 out of 63 repeat offenders nationwide)

Federal district with the most repeat offenders in non-production child pornography cases:
Dist. of Minnesota (9)

Federal circuit with the most repeat offenders in possession-only child pornography cases:
Eighth Circuit (22)

First-Time Offenders

Overall, there were 1146 first-time offenders for federal non-production child pornography convictions (out of 1,340 convictions).

Top 5 states with first-time offenders in federal non-production child pornography convictions:
Texas (111)
Florida (90)
Missouri (69)
New York (66)
California (61)

Federal circuit with the most first-time offenders for distribution of child pornography convictions (the harshest offense):
Ninth Circuit (88)

Much more can be found in the USSC`s June 2021 report, found here.

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