Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, May 31, 2010

US National Guard member jailed for child pornography


A member of the U.S. National Guard has been sentenced to 10 months in jail for smuggling child pornography into Manitoba.
Jason Brooks, 24, pleaded guilty Monday to charges under the Customs Act. He was arrested last February while bringing a load of corn across the border near Winkler. Officials grew suspicious about his behaviour after asking a series of questions and eventually searched his computer and found six videos and four pictures depicting children as young as five engaged in sexual activity.
Brooks made a series of excuses to police, at one point claiming he’d bought the computer from a convicted pedophile who must have downloaded the material before the sale. He later claimed up to 50 different people had access to his laptop and must have set him up.
"He hopes people who know him will know he’s not a sexual predator," defence lawyer Randy Minuk told court Monday.
Brooks lives in North Dakota and has been working as a long-haul trucker at the time of his arrest. He was also a member of the National Guard but is being kicked out because of his crime, court was told.
Brooks has spent the past four months in custody, which was given single-time credit under new federal legislation. He must now serve an additional six months behind bars and will be deported immediately upon his release. Minuk said he will likely never be allowed back into Canada, which will impact his future employment.

Minuk said his client was a "well-liked" member of society with many supporters, including his mother who was in court Monday to watch the sentencing hearing. Brooks was seeking to be released from custody almost immediately, but provincial court Judge Sid Lerner said more jail was necessary to express strong condemnation for this type of crime, which is growing in Canada.
Lerner also questioned how remorseful Brooks is given the various explanations he’s provided to police.

A North Dakota long-haul trucker who smuggled child pornography into Manitoba has been handed a 10-month jail sentence.
Jason Cory Brooks, 24, has been in custody since his arrest by border guards at the Canadian point of entry near Winkler on Feb. 23.
Brooks, who had crossed the border to deliver a load of corn to the town of Haskett, became nervous and gave inconsistent answers when guards asked him questions about his criminal record.
A subsequent search of his laptop revealed it had six videos and four images of child pornography on it.
Some of the illegal material depicted children as young as five engaged in sexual activity, court heard on Monday.
Instead of being charged under the Criminal Code, Brooks was charged — and pleaded guilty to — charges under the Customs Act.
He faced a maximum prison term of five years and a $500,000 fine.
His own lawyer, Randy Minuk, argued that Brooks should spend no more than 90 days in jail, creating a conflict with the Crown's request for a sentence between 9-12 months.
Judge Sidney Lerner also ordered Brooks to serve three years of supervised probation after his release from jail.
However, he faces immediate deportation back to the U.S. after his sentence expires and likely will never be allowed to return to Canada.
He was given no extra credit for the time he's spent in custody awaiting sentencing. His arrest came one day after legislation to abolish double-time credit for prisoners was made law.

National Guardsman no longer

Brooks, a member of the U.S. National Guard, has been kicked out of the group because of his conviction, court heard.
Brooks initially told investigators that he had purchased the laptop from a convicted sex offender one week prior to his arrest, and blamed the discovery of the child pornography on that man.
He later changed his story and said he had owned the computer for several months. Later still, he claimed that a number of people had access to the computer and may have been responsible for downloading the child pornography.
Court heard that the offending material was placed in folders named "normal" and "young."
Brooks also said that his own father had emailed one of the illegal images to him.
A number of letters of support were filed with the court, and Lerner said it was proof he was a "contributing and well-liked" member of his community.
However, Lerner suggested, Brooks's changing story about how the child pornography got on the laptop showed he had limited remorse for his actions.

I disagree with the 10 month jail sentence. I believe that is far too harsh. He did not have extensive pornography on his computer and a criminal record will impact his employment prospects, especially as a trucker. I would like to know more about this man's background such as his family life and what made him a well liked member of his community. Prison is a negative environment with negative influences, gangs, drugs, little access to rehab programs and pro-criminal attitudes and behaviours. I believe that only those who are truly dangerous to society should be imprisoned. This man does not fit that category, in my opinion. Prison will not deter future criminals, prevent or reduce crime. 

I would have sentenced him to a conditional discharge, where he would be subject to probation conditions but would not receive a criminal record. This would ensure that he would be able to keep his employment and would not place further deprivations and hardships upon this man.  

2 comments:

  1. Would you say that if it was your daughter he was watching get fucked on his computer? His use is creating the demand for the product. You are a kind-hearted but hopelessly naive young student.

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  2. Of course that would make me emotional, but you need to think reasonably and rationally about what sanction would be best for this man. I believe that only the most dangerous individuals should be imprisoned, and not those who are non violent, property or drug offenders or those who have mental illnesses. This man should not be incarcerated based on the fact that he is non-violent.

    Just because I am a young student, does not mean anything. I am very knowledgeable regarding criminal justice issues. I am also not naive.

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